NOTE: Zynn was removed from both Google Play and the iOS App Store in June of 2020 after widespread reports of plagiarism
If you know what TikTok is, you already know how Zynn works. The main difference of the new copycat video app is Zynn pays its users. Also, it doesn’t offer any content filters or privacy settings. So while many Zynn videos are harmless, there are some serious concerns about what kids see and share on the app.
This Zynn app guide for parents, students, and educators explains how the new app works and offers tips to help keep teens safe while using it.
TikTok has a new competitor: Zynn, a nearly button-for-button clone of TikTok that differentiates itself with one key twist — it pays users to sign up, watch videos, and convince others to follow suit.The Verge
Zynn is filled with videos that appear to be stolen from creators on other social media platforms, including TikTok celebrities with massive followings… Four influencers who spoke to WIRED said videos they originally published to TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube were uploaded to Zynn without their consent, under accounts they didn’t open.WIRED
What is the Zynn app?
- A free Chinese-owned video app where users watch and create content
- It’s extremely similar to TikTok
- The main difference is Zynn claims to pay its users for watching content and referring friends
- The app boasts a “massive” music library, cool stickers, and funny effects
- Videos can be shared to Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
- You don’t need an account to watch videos, but you do need an account to make a profile and earn rewards/money
- Users can “like” and comment on videos and follow (or block) other users
Where is Zynn available?
- Apple App Store Rating: 12+ (Zynn was removed from the App Store in June after complaints were filed)
- Google Play Rating: T (Teen) (Zynn was removed from Google Play in June after reports of plagiarism)
- Developer’s Website: Zynn.us (Based in China, Owned by Owlii Inc, a subsidiary of Kuaishou)
- Terms of Service
Who can use Zynn?
- All new users must sign up with:
- A phone number
- Facebook account
- or Google account
- The app’s Community Guidelines state:
- Zynn is only for users ages 13+
- The company won’t provide access to the account or information about the account to anyone other than the account holder
- Parents and guardians of account holders “are responsible for educating your child on internet safety”
How is money earned on the Zynn app?
- As users scroll through the video feed, they accumulate points (each hour watched equals about $1.20)
- Users also get up to $20 for every friend they refer and a bonus $10 for every fifth friend
- To qualify for the referral money, new users must download Zynn, sign up, and continually use the app
- Referral earnings can be transferred to PayPal or cashed in for gift cards to the Apple App Store, Walmart, Amazon, etc.
- The app launched in May 2020 and already had glitches with its withdrawal feature
- An in-app message says Zynn is currently only redeeming rewards for gift cards, but plans to resume PayPal cash withdrawals on June 7, 2020
Zynn app in the news
Zynn is seemingly being funded by Kuaishou… a key rival for… TikTok’s parent company ByteDance. That, potentially, makes Zynn a much bigger concern for TikTok – but it could also make both Zynn and TikTok much bigger targets for western regulators, many of whom were already highly concerned about a Chinese organization, in ByteDance, making a push into western markets, and gathering data on non-Chinese citizens.Social Media Today
As teenagers unsuspectedly dance in their bedrooms and accumulate points for watching videos, international espionage, surveillance development, and cyberwarfare plays out in real-time. If there was ever an acute technological catalyst for the acceleration of US-China conflict, this is it.Forbes
Chinese video app Zynn, a clone of the hugely popular Chinese video app TikTok, has been removed from Google’s Play Store following accusations of plagiarism… Some say their accounts have been cloned entirely, with profiles appearing on Zynn, including their name, picture, and months of back-dated content. In some cases, these videos appear to have been uploaded to Zynn before the app even officially launched in the US.The Verge
Zynn seems to be a pyramid referral scheme. Even the options presented when you’re ready to withdraw your ‘Zynn earnings’ appear to purposefully make it difficult to take your money and walk away.Mashable
Why should parents care?
- There are concerns over how the app protects a user’s privacy and data
- There are NO content filters available on Zynn
- Since all content is user generated, videos range from cute animals and cooking to explicit song lyrics, partial nudity, and dangerous stunts
- There is NO way to make a Zynn account private
- Anything your student posts on Zynn is public
- Users can follow other users and block individual users
- The incentive to earn money on Zynn could lead to addictive behavior
What can parents do?
- Download Zynn, spend some time using it, then determine if it’s safe for your family to use
- If your student uses Zynn, ask for their username
- Teach your students to come talk to you, or a trusted adult, if they are ever contacted by a stranger or ever feel uncomfortable on Zynn
- Teach them to never share personal info in videos or comments
- Remind your student that their online activity, even under a fake username, can impact their reputation and their future
- Teach your students the dangers of participating in viral video challenges or doing anything dangerous for social media attention
- Teach students they can block individual users and mark inappropriate videos as “not interested”
Many students strive for “likes” and virtual approval on apps like Zynn and TikTok. This could encourage kids to do things they wouldn’t normally do. It’s important for parents and guardians to encourage safe and smart behavior and set limits on the type of information your student shares.