Facebook's New Video App Lasso Rips Off China's TikTok

By Bryan Grogan, November 13, 2018

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Facebook again laid down the gauntlet this weekend, quietly launching a new app to compete with Chinese company Bytedance’s short-video sharing phenomenon, TikTok. On Friday, November 9, the social media giants revealed their new short-video app, called Lasso, which has been described as an almost identical clone of the wildly popular TikTok by Business Insider.

Facebook’s version of the video-sharing software, like TikTok, features 15-second-long videos backed by music available from Facebook’s massive store of licensed songs. However, Lasso does not currently include the cute and humorous filters that have made TikTok such a massive hit. 

Facebook previously ‘copied’ Snapchat’s Stories feature to use throughout their social media catalogue. The introduction of Stories brought renewed success to sites like Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook itself. 

The development of Lasso was leaked just three weeks ago. On Friday, Facebook’s principal lead product designer Brady Voss celebrated the launch on his twitter account

Screenshot via @bvossss/Twitter

It is perhaps unsurprising that Facebook has decided to step into the video-sharing market as TikTok, known in China as Douyin, has taken the world by storm in 2018. In the first quarter of 2018, the video platform was the most downloaded app in world, according to US research firm Sensor Tower. 

Lasso is primarily aimed at preteens and teenagers and represents an effort by Facebook to broaden their appeal among younger audiences.

Graph via statista

The launch may be a cause for concern for Bytedance, who are currently putting out fires in China after being reprimanded by the government for allowing erotic literature to be published on its news-sharing app, Toutiao. 

Another worry for Bytedance: the Lasso app will presumably come under the Facebook umbrella alongside the likes of Whatsapp, Messenger and Instagram, allowing users to share their short videos between their various social sites

On the other hand, Facebook’s attempt to replicate TikTok's success can be seen as a sign that China’s cultural influence is growing. The term ‘Copy from China,’ may soon replace the traditionally used ‘Copy to China’ – which is shorthand for replicating a foreign business model in the Middle Kingdom (see Google/Baidu and Uber/Didi Chuxing for reference.)

Weibo users had mixed reactions beneath a post by Sina Technology. One user celebrated the move saying “Finally, it's the turn of a foreign country to copy us,” while another pointed out that TikTok is not the first short-video sharing app, saying "Don't tell me who imitated who. Short video apps like Musical.ly were released before TikTok."

READ MORE: Facebook Creating App to Compete with China's TikTok

[Cover image via Ryan Gandolfo/That's]

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