Jun 10, 2020 - Technology

Hawley calls for FTC inquiry into new TikTok rival

Sen. Josh Hawley asks a question at a Senate hearing.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images.

Zynn, a rising TikTok-like service that pays its users, is drawing the attention of China hawk and Big Tech antagonist Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who wants the Federal Trade Commission to look into it.

Why it matters: Zynn, which pays users both when they watch content and when they refer others to install its video-sharing app, quickly topped the App Store's free app chart just weeks after debuting in May.

Meanwhile, Wired reported late Tuesday that Zynn's service is full of videos reposted without permission from TikTok influencers, and that Google has pulled its app from its Play Store.

What's happening: In a letter Wednesday, Hawley pressed the FTC to investigate Zynn's business practices and its ties to China.

  • Zynn is backed by Beijing-based Kuaishou, a video-sharing company that competes with the Chinese version of TikTok, The Information reports.

Details: Hawley said Zynn's approach to paying users to convince others to install the app "smacks of a textbook predatory-pricing scheme, one calculated to attain immediate market dominance for Zynn by driving competitors out of the market."

  • Hawley also warned about Kuaishou's practices in China, where the company has appeared to, by turns, censor and promote content at the Beijing government's behest, according to press reports.
  • He also questioned whether Zynn is complying with U.S. children's online privacy laws.
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