Byte, a social media app released in January, might swallow up a good chunk of TikTok’s 800 million users as President Trump threatens to ban the China-based tech.
On July 9, just two days after the feds first mentioned taking action against TikTok over concerns China was using it to data-gather and spy on Americans, 622,000 web rats fled the sinking app and downloaded Byte, according to data from Sensor Tower, a website that tracks app data.
Unlike TikTok, Byte is American-made. It was created by Dom Hofmann, the co-founder of Vine, another wildly popular app that was acquired by Twitter in 2012 but shuttered in October 2017. That’s when Hofmann began working on Byte.
Confusingly, TikTok is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance, which has no relation to its similarly-named US competitor.
While many TikTok users are in a panic over possibly losing their beloved app, some are taking the transition to Byte in stride.
Rutgers University junior Rotem Cudkevich, 20, says she immediately downloaded Byte in July after hearing of the potential ban. “I didn’t know what I would do with my spare time without TikTok. I spend hours scrolling through the app every day.”
University of Chicago student Jake La Fronz, 21, likes Byte for its “larger and cleaner icons that make it easier to navigate … whereas TikTok can feel clunky and slower at times.”
The downside, he added, was that Byte “lacks the cultural relevance that TikTok has generated.”
Though similar, the three video-sharing apps have key differences.
On Vine, users could record and post six-second looping videos that followers could repost, like or send to friends.
TikTok, which launched in September 2016, allows users to post videos 15-60 seconds long, but with many more bells and whistles, including thousands of filters, sounds effects and the ability to insert text directly into clips.
Like its predecessor, Byte features 6-second looping videos, but with special effects this time around.
Byte and TikTok both have complex algorithms that provide users with a personalized, never-ending stream of videos to scroll through. On Byte, this feature is called “Your mix” and on TikTok, “For you.”
Some TikTok users have found Byte to be a viable backup.
“I heard that Byte was released by the creator of the Vine and I used to love Vine so I downloaded it and created an account right away,” said La Fronz, of Marlboro, NJ. “I figured it had the chance to be as big or bigger than TikTok.”
Even TikTok stars have begun to migrate to the app just in case. Addison Rae, whose TikTok has 53.4 million followers, opened an account on Byte under the name “notaddison” with a smaller, but still massive, 15 million-user following.
Byte did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment.
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