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ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is facing the possibility of having to divest itself of TikTok or having the app banned entirely if a bill passed by the House is also passed by the Senate. To potentially avoid this, ByteDance is paying influencers to promote its other social media platform, Lemon8. Lemon8 is an Instagram-clone that features posts about food, beauty, wellness, and travel. The move to pay influencers to push Lemon8 may be an attempt by ByteDance to bypass a potential ban on TikTok by having another popular platform owned by the Chinese company.

Influencers on TikTok have reported being offered money by ByteDance to create content promoting Lemon8. However, some influencers have refused the offers, stating that the payment was not enough to promote a platform they do not use personally. One influencer with a large following on TikTok acknowledged working with ByteDance to build a following on Lemon8, even though she only has a fraction of her TikTok following on the new platform. Other influencers have also posted videos promoting Lemon8 and encouraging their followers to use the app.

The bill that could potentially lead to a ban on TikTok, Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications, is aimed at forcing a divestiture of TikTok and any other applications developed by ByteDance. However, there are loopholes in the bill that ByteDance may attempt to exploit to avoid a ban on its platforms. One loophole is the requirement that apps must have over 1 million average users before they can be acted against, which Lemon8 does not currently meet. Despite this, Lemon8 has been growing in terms of usage, which could be a result of ByteDance’s campaign to promote the platform.

ByteDance has appointed TikTok’s CEO as the head of Lemon8 in an effort to find synergy between the two apps. Lemon8 is listed on app stores with a developer name that is not directly associated with ByteDance, potentially distancing the platform from being labeled as a “foreign adversary.” Policy experts have noted that the current ban in the bill could potentially apply to apps like Lemon8, but until the bill is signed into law, ByteDance continues to push forward with their promotion of Lemon8 to potentially avoid a ban. Overall, ByteDance’s efforts to grow Lemon8 amidst the potential ban of TikTok may be seen as a strategic move to maintain a presence in the social media landscape.

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