There’s a new buzzy social media app in town, and it’s already giving Instagram and Pinterest some competition. If you spend any amount of time on TikTok, you’ve undoubtedly seen influencers hyping the lifestyle app Lemon8 in recent weeks. Weird name aside, Lemon8 blends the best features from TikTok and Instagram into an aesthetically pleasing layout reminiscent of Pinterest. And if you have a Pinterest- or TikTok-obsessed teen in your house, there’s a good chance they already have the app on their phone — they may even be the one who alerted you to its existence in the first place.

But who is it really for? Just teens? Nope. Lemon8 is aimed directly at people who love fashion, design, beauty, and aspirational content. For the most part, it’s not a place for memes or comedy skits. Instead, users will find OOTDs and makeup tutorials full of links telling you exactly where to buy the products used in the videos or highlighted in the photos.

Lemon8 is free to download, and setting up an account is easy. But before you add the lifestyle app to your social media rotation, there are a few things you need to know — especially as a parent. Read on for a rundown on what Lemon8 is, who owns the app, and why some of the hype might be manufactured.

What is Lemon8, exactly?

Lemon8 is a social media app focusing on beauty, fashion, home décor, food, and wellness. If you download and sign up with the app, those are the categories you’ll see across the top of your “For You” page. Like on other social media sites, you can choose which interests and creators you want to follow to curate your feed to your interests. The best part is the feed is laid out in a similar style to Pinterest, which cuts out the auto-play doomscrolling that TikTok is known for.

The content itself is presented as either Instagram-style photo carousels or TikTok-esque videos. However, users seem less likely to share random photos than to curate style lookbooks or serve up cooking tutorials. Sometimes, influencers will include text on their pictures detailing where each item in their image is from alongside the prices, and captions are full of information on where to find the products mentioned (with plenty of affiliate links).

Because of the nature of the content, it’s hard to know what’s an ad and what’s organic. But if you enjoy making aesthetic Pinterest boards, or already frequent LTK to search for products promoted by your favorite influencers, you’ll likely enjoy the relatively low-key vibes of Lemon8.

Where did Lemon8 come from?

The new lifestyle app is from Bytedance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok and is embroiled in a standoff with the U.S. government over national security concerns. Currently, congress is debating the Restrict Act, which could lead to a TikTok ban if passed. The bill won’t just affect TikTok, though. If passed, it will give the U.S. Commerce Department the authority to ban or restrict any app created in a country that could be seen as a national security threat.

For its part, Lemon8’s privacy policy is similar to that of other social media sites, but it does let users know that their information may not be stored on servers in the same country they reside in. “The personal information we collect from you may be stored on a server located outside of the country where you live,” the policy reads. (The storage of information on international servers is one of the sticking points between Bytedance and Congress.)

This could put the lifestyle app in a similar position as TikTok if Bytedance and the U.S. government don’t reach a compromise.

Is the hype surrounding Lemon8 authentic?

Lemon8 first launched in Japan in 2020 before rolling out in the U.S. earlier this year. According to TechCrunch, it began taking off with stateside users in late March and quickly became one of the top most downloaded lifestyle apps in the app store. However, the growth wasn’t entirely organic.

As reported by the New York Times, Bytedance paid influencers to promote the new app to raise its profile. The gambit paid off with news of Lemon8 spreading — but that doesn’t mean the lifestyle app will go the distance. Bytedance designed Lemon8 to help the company compete with Instagram and Pinterest, but if the Restrict Act is passed, it could come under fire right alongside TikTok.

What’s more, the app has to actually live up to its hype. Right now, it’s a fun diversion for anyone who wishes Pinterest was a bit more social, but it’s unlikely to have you ditching your favorite recipes board on Pinterest in favor of a curated Lemon8 page just yet.


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