TikTok’s parent has a new app: What to know about Lemon8

Apr 5, 2023, 11:41 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — As lawmakers debate whether to ban TikTok nationwide, its Chinese parent company has introduced a new app that’s already getting some traction.

The app, called Lemon8, is likely to face some of the same scrutiny as TikTok, which has been dogged by claims the Chinese government could force its parent company ByteDance to hand over U.S. user data or push misinformation on the platform.

TikTok maintains that hasn’t happened. And it’s attempting to convince lawmakers it can keep user data safe.

Meanwhile, ByteDance is pressing ahead with its expansion plans. Here’s what you need to know about the company’s new app:


Lemon8 is a photo-based app that resembles a mixture of Instagram and Pinterest, and is sprinkled with videos that look like the ones posted on TikTok. Social marketing experts say the app is also reminiscent of the Chinese social media and e-commerce giant Xiaohongshu, which translates to “little red book.”

Like TikTok, Lemon8’s main feed features a “following” section that lets users look at content from creators they follow, as well as a “For You” section that recommends other posts. It also segments posts under different categories, like fashion, beauty and food, and allows users to explore content in other ways.

Similar to TikTok and other social media sites, Lemon8 collects user data, such as IP address, browsing history, device identifiers and other information.

Both the Apple and Google Play app stores list its owner as Heliophilia Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based company that shares the same address as ByteDance and TikTok.


Lemon8 was first launched in Asian markets in 2020 and has already made headway in countries like Thailand and Japan, with roughly 7.4 million and 5 million downloads respectively, according to the app analytics company data.ai.

It was introduced in the U.S. in February with little fanfare, but all that changed when media organizations started paying closer attention and some TikTok influencers began promoting it.

As of Sunday, the app had 290,000 downloads in the U.S., the vast majority of which happened in late March, according to data.ai. It’s also listed as one of the most popular apps on Apple’s app store.

Nicla Bartoli, the vice president of sales at Influencer Marketing Factory, said ByteDance reached out to her company in late February and gave a lengthy presentation about the app and how influencers can use it. She said the agency, which connects brands with influencers, is recommending that influencers try out the app but isn’t doing the same with brands since Lemon8’s user base is still relatively small.

It also remains to be seen if the app will take off more organically or flop. The last five years have been littered with social media platforms that got a lot of hype, only to vanish in the end, said Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at the creative agency Mekanism. He pointed to examples like BeReal and Clubhouse, which garnered a lot of attention in the past two years before users turned their attention elsewhere.

“Social app success is difficult to achieve and harder to maintain,” Gahan said.


ByteDance did not reply to a request for an interview about how it plans to grow Lemon8. But the company’s general counsel Erich Andersen noted in an interview with the Associated Press at a cybersecurity conference last week that it will continue to develop the app.

“We’re obviously going to do our best with the Lemon8 app to comply with U.S. law and to make sure we do the right thing here,” said Andersen, who also serves as TikTok’s general counsel. “But I think we got a long way to go with that application — it’s pretty much a startup phase.”

As part of that work, ByteDance is already seeking job applicants for a few U.S.-based roles that will help grow the app’s partnerships with influencers on beauty, food, health and other topics.


Another app owned by ByteDance, called CapCut, is also listed on Apple’s App Store as one of the most popular apps in the U.S.

CapCut markets itself as an “all-in-one” video editing tool that allows users to cut or speed up their content, and do other things like add filters and music.

Data.ai, the app analytics company, said that app was released globally in April 2020, roughly a year after it was introduced in China. As of Sunday, the group said the editing tool had been downloaded 60 million times in the U.S. and 940 million globally.


There is support for a bipartisan bill in the Senate, called the RESTRICT Act, that does not call out TikTok but would give the Commerce Department power to review and potentially restrict foreign threats to technology platforms. But it has faced some pushback from privacy advocates and ring-wing commentators who argue the legislation is too vague and could be abused.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, who sponsored the bill along with Republican Sen. John Thune, said in a prepared statement that the legislation would make it easier to go after other risky apps like Lemon8.

“For too long, our government has been playing a game of Whac-A-Mole when it comes to addressing the various foreign technology threats popping up all around us,” said Warner, D-Va. “The RESTRICT Act would establish a risk-based, intelligence-informed process to evaluate and mitigate the risks posed by tech from adversarial nations, whether that be Huawei, TikTok, Lemon8, or the next viral technology product pushed by an authoritarian nation.”

United States News

FILE - A general view shows the aftermath of a wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023. ...

Associated Press

First congressional hearing on Maui wildfire to focus on island’s sole electric provider and grid

Hawaii’s top public utility officials and the president of Hawaiian Electric are expected to testify Thursday in a congressional hearing about the role the electrical grid played in last month’s deadly Maui wildfire. Members of a U.S. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee are expected to question the utility officials about how the deadliest U.S. wildfire […]

4 hours ago

FILE - The fire-damaged Wellspring Health Access clinic is cordoned by tape, May 25, 2022, in Caspe...

Associated Press

The woman who torched Wyoming’s lone, full-service abortion clinic is about to be sentenced

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A woman who says anxiety and nightmares led her to set fire to Wyoming’s only full-service abortion clinic, setting back the facility’s opening almost a year, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday. Lorna Roxanne Green could be sentenced to 20 years in prison for burning the Wellspring Health Access facility in […]

4 hours ago

FILE - New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks during the New York State Democratic Co...

Associated Press

NY Attorney General Letitia James has a long history of fighting Trump, other powerful targets

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Letitia James fixated on Donald Trump as she campaigned for New York attorney general, branding the then-president a “con man” and ″carnival barker” and pledging to shine a “bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings.” Five years later, James is on the verge of disrupting Trump’s real […]

5 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden leans in to hear a question as he speaks with reporters before walking t...

Associated Press

House Republicans are set to make their case for Biden impeachment inquiry at first hearing

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans have insisted for months that they have the grounds to launch impeachment proceedings against President Joe Biden. On Thursday, they will begin formally making their case to the public and their skeptical colleagues in the Senate. The chairmen of Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means will hold the opening hearing of […]

5 hours ago

President Joe Biden landed at Sky Harbor International Airport where he will honor late Senator Joh...

Brandon Gray

President Joe Biden arrives in Arizona, will honor John McCain in Tempe, road closures expected

President Joe Biden arrived Wednesday night in the Valley where he will honor the late Senator John McCain Thursday in Tempe. 

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Gang violence in Haiti is escalating and spreading with a significant increase in killings, UN says

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Gang violence in Haiti is escalating and spreading from the capital Port-au-Prince through the center of the country to its two other major cities, Gonaives and Cap-Hatien, with a significant increase in killings, kidnappings and rapes in the past few months, the U.N. chief said in a report circulated Wednesday. Secretary-General […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Ignite Digital

How to unlock the power of digital marketing for Phoenix businesses

All businesses around the Valley hopes to maximize their ROI with current customers and secure a greater market share in the digital sphere.


Mayo Clinic

Game on! Expert sports physicals focused on you

With tryouts quickly approaching, now is the time for parents to schedule physicals for their student-athlete. The Arizona Interscholastic Association requires that all student-athletes must have a physical exam completed before participating in team practices or competition.



At Ability360, every day is Independence Day

With 100 different programs and services, more than 1,500 non-medically based home care staff, a world-renowned Sports & Fitness Center and over 15,000 people with disabilities served annually, across all ages and demographics, Ability360 is a nationwide leader in the disability community.

TikTok’s parent has a new app: What to know about Lemon8