Hello, Lemon8?
Credit: Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images News

With Instagram emulating its features effectively and a potential ban threatening, TikTok is under pressure from various directions — but it’s not backing down.

There are rumors that TikTok could be working on a new app called “TikTok Photos,” as reported by The SpAndroid, who found references to “TikTok Photos” in the backend code of the current TikTok app. Allegedly, a new welcome message suggests: “TikTok Photos will be launched soon, we hope to help you gain new audiences in the new app. If the switch is on, we’ll sync your public photos to the new app, whether you close the pop-up or not.” TikTok has not responded immediately to requests for comments.

It bears a resemblance to TikTok imitating Instagram’s approach, akin to Instagram mimicking TikTok’s short video format to create Reels. TikTok, known for its “photo mode” for image slideshows, previously attempted a lackluster Instagram-inspired app named Lemon8. The realm of social media platforms seems to be a perpetual loop of apps borrowing ideas from one another until they all become similar. How fascinating!

Instagram is copying TikTok, and the strategy is working

The leak emerges as TikTok encounters its most challenging opposition yet. In 2023, for the first time since 2020, TikTok witnessed fewer new app installations than Instagram, as per data from market research firm Sensor Tower cited by the Financial Times. While TikTok’s downloads only increased by 4 percent in 2023, Instagram saw a 20 percent rise, partly due to Instagram’s imitative tactics.

Simultaneously, TikTok faces a potential prohibition. Legislators are pushing the “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act,” which aims to ban TikTok and other applications originating from China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran from U.S. app stores. If the ban is passed by Congress, President Joe Biden has pledged to endorse it. In response, TikTok has urged its U.S. users to contact their representatives to prevent a TikTok shutdown.

The effectiveness of TikTok’s move to replicate Instagram remains to be seen, especially considering how well Instagram’s duplicated approach has worked. However, TikTok is sparing no effort to maintain its influence and relevance among U.S. users.


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Christianna Silva
Senior Culture Reporter

Christianna Silva is a Senior Culture Reporter at Mashable. They write about tech and digital culture, with a focus on Facebook and Instagram. Before joining Mashable, they worked as an editor at NPR and MTV News, a reporter at Teen Vogue and VICE News, and as a stablehand at a mini-horse farm. You can follow them on Twitter @christianna_j.


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