Zynn, the Chinese video sharing app that’s a near button-for-button clone of TikTok, has been removed from Apple’s App Store. The app was previously taken down from Google’s Play Store last week after reports of plagiarism on the platform, and had attracted controversy for a reward scheme that paid users to watch videos and sign up friends.
Prior to the app’s removal from the App Store, a spokesperson for Zynn told The Verge that its issues with plagiarism were minor, and that the company was “in communication with both Google and Apple to ensure compliance with their guidelines and regulations.”
“This is an isolated incident that has triggered a routine investigation”
“We understand this happened due to complaints raised on user-uploaded videos,” said the spokesperson, referring to the app’s removal from the Play Store. “This is an isolated incident that has triggered a routine investigation from Google’s platform. Upon receiving the notice, we immediately removed the problematic video and blocked the user from uploading any additional videos before providing further proof of copyright.”
Zynn’s description of its plagiarism problem as an “isolated incident” is contradicted by a recent report from Wired, which describes a wider pattern of misbehavior. A number of popular TikTok users have found their videos uploaded to Zynn, complete with user profiles mimicing their own, and in some cases, content backdated to before Zynn’s launch.
Zynn became available on iOS and Android at the start of May and gained popularity quickly, becoming one of the top downloaded apps on both platforms. This meteoric rise was fueled in part by the app’s reward scheme, which paid users for signing up, watching videos, and getting friends to sign up, too. Zynn said it was simply giving money it would have otherwise spent on advertisement directly to users, but one US media watchdog described the app as a “pyramid scheme.”
A battle between Chinese tech giants on US shores
The app’s speedy rise and fall is part of a long-running battle between two Chinese tech giants: Zynn’s parent company Kuaishou, and ByteDance, parent company of TikTok. The two firms have been fighting for supremacy in China’s competitive video sharing market, and with TikTok’s sudden success in the West, the battle has spilled over into the US.
Although Zynn managed to attract a sizable number of users in a very short amount of time, its long-term success is now threatened. Some have suggested that Zynn’s management itself is responsible for uploading content from TikTok to the app as an unconventional growth hack, but the company says this is just the work of over-zealous users.
“This [plagiarism issue] came about as Zynn is gaining popularity in the US and many users are uploading content and building their own communities,” said the spokesperson. “Zynn has always been an ardent supporter of original content. Zynn respects and requires creators to abide by local copyright laws. Zynn provides users with a one-click complaint feature to protect creators’ rights.”
Now the company just has to convince Apple and Google of these intentions, too.