Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Growing security and privacy concerns over Chinese-owned short-video app TikTok have given a lift to alternatives like Byte and Dubsmash, which have seen spikes in downloads from smartphone users recently, according to data from SensorTower.

Why it matters: If TikTok's meteoric rise in popularity among U.S. youth gets slowed by rising tensions with China, or ended by a threatened ban by the Trump administration, American teens will still have to get their hits of meme-laden video somewhere.

  • Snapchat is testing a TikTok-style navigation for exploring content, per TechCrunch. The test is focused on public video content within its content arm Discover, not private content sent amongst friends.
  • Byte, which launched in January and was created by former Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann, experienced a bump in downloads a few days ago following President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's talks about possibly banning TikTok in the U.S.
  • Dubsmash, an older lip-sync video app, has seen a resurgence in downloads following the news of a possible ban.
Data: SensorTower; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: TikTok is getting pulled into the deadly serious geopolitical conflict between China and the U.S., as Axios has previously reported.

  • More than any other Chinese-owned app, TikTok has found success outside of its homeland. But as the U.S. sounds security alarms and China turns the legal screws on Hong Kong, the company is fighting to prove that it's not beholden to Beijing — and to forestall a threatened ban by the Trump administration.

By the numbers: TikTok grew its monthly user base in India prior to the government ban last month by 328.8% year over year to 79.0 million in 2019.

  • This year, Business Insider forecasts that it will reach 124.9 million people, up 58.1%, and surpassing Instagram and Snapchat's reach in the region.
Data: AppTopia; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Be smart: More institutions continue to put pressure on users and employees to abandon TikTok, including India, U.S. military agencies and political parties, and some companies, like Wells Fargo.

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Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Sep 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

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