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All About Lemon8; The App Being Promoted by TikTok Parent ByteDance Amidst Regulatory Pressure

To promote its lesser-known platform, Lemon8, ByteDance has reportedly engaged influencers to endorse the app on TikTok.
Cover Image Source: TikTok | @Alma Bradford
Cover Image Source: TikTok | @Alma Bradford

TikTok is currently facing a ban in the US if its parent company ByteDance doesn't seal the deal to sell the app's business in the US to an American investor. The possibility of the social media giant disappearing from the online landscape has raised concern among content creators as well as brands and small businesses, that use TikTok for marketing campaigns. At the same time, ByteDance has been seen making strategic moves to diversify its social media portfolio to navigate regulatory challenges. The firm is now promoting a lesser-known platform called Lemon8, by reportedly engaging influencers for it on TikTok, according to the New York Post.

YouTube | @FilterGrade
Image Source: YouTube | @FilterGrade

Lemon8, often compared to Pinterest, offers users a platform to share photos and seek inspiration from others. Drawing parallels to the Chinese social media app Xiaohongshu, the platform aims to provide a similar experience for a broader audience.

Resembling a mixture of Instagram and Pinterest, Lemon8 is sprinkled with videos that resemble those posted on TikTok, adding to its dynamic appeal. The app's main feed features a "Following" section for users to view content from creators they follow, as well as a "For You" section that recommends other posts.

"Some of the algorithms that are used in Lemon8 are similar to or exactly the same as the recommendation algorithms in TikTok, which of course, would make both of those apps tremendously popular because they feed you what you want to see and so on," said Glenn Gerstell, senior advisor at Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Moreover, Lemon8's owner, listed as Heliophilia Pte. Ltd., is a Singapore-based company sharing the same address as ByteDance and TikTok.

Reports suggest that ByteDance has been incentivizing influencers to create content that promotes Lemon8 on TikTok. One content creator disclosed that she was offered $200 for a brand deal requiring her to upload a video endorsing the app.

The app has garnered mixed reactions, with some TikTok users expressing confusion about the app's functionality and purpose. One of those users went on to vocalize her uncertainty in a video captioned "wtf is lemon8." 

YouTube | @FilterGrade
Image Source: YouTube | @FilterGrade

Since its launch in 2020, Lemon8 has rapidly gained traction in Asian markets. The app has made significant strides in countries like Thailand and Japan, boasting approximately 7.4 million and 5 million downloads, respectively.


The bill passed by the US House of Representatives requires ByteDance to divest from TikTok or face expulsion from US app stores and has broader implications beyond TikTok alone. It will potentially impact other Chinese-owned applications such as Lemon8 and CapCut. If passed, the bill aims to ban social media applications controlled by foreign adversaries, including China. It also prohibits app stores from distributing, maintaining, or providing internet hosting services for such applications.

Image Source: ByteDance Website
Image Source: ByteDance Website

During the bill's hearing, concerns were raised about applications like Lemon8 and CapCut being influenced by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and potentially engaging in data collection mandated by Chinese law.

Despite not sharing the same level of popularity as TikTok, Lemon8 and CapCut remain widely used, with CapCut ranking among the top free iOS applications in the US.