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The Rise of New Short-Form Video App Zynn Could Spell Trouble for TikTok



There’s a new, Chinese-owned, short-form video app on the rise, with TikTok-like Zynn hitting the top of the US App Store charts this week.


As you can see from these images, Zynn looks very much like TikTok, with almost identical visual style, and features like effects and video editing tools.

As per the app’s description, Zynn’s key functions are:

  • Discover spontaneous and exciting short-form videos
  • Create fancy 15 seconds videos with massive music library, cool stickers and funny effects
  • Share wonderful moments to Instagram, Snapchat and etc.
  • Connect to like-minded people from the globe, embrace your community

So it’s TikTok, right? It’s pretty much the same in every way.

So why is Zynn suddenly gaining traction?

As outlined in this tweet thread from Turner Novak of Gelt VC, Zynn’s key differentiator is, essentially, an in-built pyramid scheme.


As you can see in these screenshots, you can earn in-app rewards by watching videos on Zynn, and inviting friends to the app. Those funds can then be used to purchase items in app, including a range of gift cards for the App Store, Walmart, Amazon, etc. Funds can also be transferred via PayPal, according to Zynn’s advertising.

Given the amount of people currently out of work due to COVID-19, that could prove to be a major lure – and already there are a heap of YouTube videos in which Zynn users claim to have made thousands via the app.

The bigger picture is that Zynn is seemingly being funded by Kuaishou, which is a key rival for Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, as well as TikTok’s parent company ByteDance. 

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As noted by Novak:

That, potentially, makes Zynn a much bigger concern for TikTok – but it could also make both Zynn and TikTok much bigger targets for western regulators, many of whom were already highly concerned about a Chinese organization, in ByteDance, making a push into western markets, and gathering data on non-Chinese citizens. 

If Zynn gains major traction, particularly through incentivized schemes like this, you can imagine that government groups will be keen to shut it down. But if they shut down one Chinese app, they may also have to shut down both – if the approach is that Zynn is working to gather data, and that’s reason enough to block its access to western markets, then the same logic could also be extended to TikTok.

TikTok, of course, is working to distance itself from its Chinese roots. In announcing the appointment of Kevin Mayer as its new CEO recently, TikTok also noted that parent company ByteDance is actually now incorporated in the Cayman Islands, not China. So all good, right – TikTok’s not even a Chinese company at all.

In practice, however, ByteDance seemingly remains governed by China’s cybersecurity rules, which stipulate that it has to share data with the Chinese Government on request. 

Basically, with the sudden rise of Zinn, western regulators will be like:

Two of them

And aside from a new competitor, TikTok could also face even tougher scrutiny as a result.



New Screenshots Highlight How Snapchat’s Coming ‘Family Center’ Will Work



New Screenshots Highlight How Snapchat's Coming 'Family Center' Will Work

Snapchat’s parental control options look close to launch, with new screenshots based on back-end code showing how Snap’s coming ‘Family Center’ will look in the app.

As you can see in these images, shared by app intelligence company Watchful (via TechCrunch), the Family Center will enable parents to see who their child is engaging with in the app, along with who they’ve added, who they’re following, etc.

That could provide a new level of assurance for parents – though it could also be problematic for Snap, which has become a key resource for more private, intimate connection, with its anti-public posting ethos, and disappearing messages, helping to cement its place as an alternative to other social apps.

That’s really how Snap has embedded its niche. While other apps are about broadcasting your life to the wider world, Snap is about connecting with a small group of friends, where you can share your more private, secret thoughts, without concern of them living on forever, and coming back to bite you at a later stage.

That also, of course, means that more questionable, dangerous communications are happening in the app. Various reports have investigated how Snap is used for sending lewd messages, and arranging hook-ups, while drug dealers reportedly now use Snap to organize meet-ups and sales.

Which, of course, is why parents will be keen to get more insight into such, but I can’t imagine Snap users will be so welcoming of an intrusive tool in this respect.

But if parents know that it exists, they may have to, and that could be problematic for Snap. Teen users will need to accept their parents’ invitation to enable Family Center monitoring, but you can see how this could become an issue for many younger users in the app.


Still, the protective benefits may well be worth it, with random hook-ups and other engagements posing significant risks. And with kids as young as 13 able to create a Snapchat account, there are many vulnerable youngsters engaging in the app.

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But it could reduce Snap’s appeal, as more parents become aware of the tool.

Snapchat hasn’t provided any further insight into the new Family Center, or when it will be released, but it looks close to launch based on these images.  

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