Zynn, the TikTok clone that shot to the top of the app store charts in late May, was pulled from Apple’s App Store on Monday. The controversial app had already been removed from the Google Play store, following a series of complaints from influencers who claimed Zynn had uploaded content they had published elsewhere without their permission. Others also said they found profiles of themselves on Zynn even though they had never signed up, Wired reported earlier this month.
Though Google at the time didn’t comment on Zynn’s removal, it’s likely that the plagiarism complaints played a role in its decision to remove the app. An Apple spokesperson had also then confirmed it was looking into the issues around Zynn.
Before its removal from the U.S. App Store, Zynn was the No. 5 app, according to data from Sensor Tower. The app reached the No. 1 spot for the first time on May 27 and stayed there through June 1. It then jumped to No. 1 again from June 5 through June 10.
Sensor Tower estimates Zynn was downloaded 5 million times on iOS and 700,000 times on Google Play before it was removed.
In addition to the suspicious accounts with plagiarized content, Zynn used a controversial reward system to enable its growth — a system that some described as a pyramid scheme. The app claimed to pay users to watch videos and invite their friends. But users said they had trouble getting their payouts.
Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the app, saying “this smacks of a textbook predatory-pricing scheme, one calculated to attain immediate market dominance for Zynn by driving competitors out of the market.”
He also warned that an app paying for downloads could drive out other, much-need competition in the social app market.
“Competition in the social media platform space is particularly essential for American consumers, given the extent to which Facebook, Twitter, and other tech behemoths have throttled innovation by exerting near-monopolistic control over the social media landscape. Anticompetitive practices in this market cannot be tolerated,” Hawley’s letter read. And he suggested the app’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party could be another complication that needed investigation. (Zynn is backed by Chinese conglomerate Kuaishou, a rival to TikTok parent ByteDance.)
A spokesperson for Zynn told Wired earlier this month that it would take action against the users flouting the rules. It claimed that the plagiarized accounts were created by users, not by the company itself, but most doubt this to be true.
It’s unclear why Apple took as long as it did to make a decision on Zynn’s removal. If anything, Apple is typically less tolerant than Google when it comes to misbehaving apps, especially when they’re scamming users. But in this case, Google moved more quickly boot Zynn.
Requests for comment were sent to Zynn and Apple, but responses weren’t immediately available.
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