June 11, 2020

The Google Play store smacks down Zynn, the TikTok lookalike

The app that dished out tons of free money to users was filled with stolen content.

You might remember Zynn as the video app that practically spews money: When I tried it, it offered me $1 to create an account, then up to $110 to invite 5 friends.

At the end of May, when Zynn was the most popular app in the US, people started calling it a TikTok doppelganger.

Turns out, Zynn doesn’t just share TikTok’s look — it has the same videos, too. A Wired report found that the app is littered with content stolen from its rival, and on Tuesday, Zynn got axed from the Google Play store.

Zynners weren’t even being subtle

Wired discovered multiple Zynn accounts posing as mega-famous TikTokers like Charli D’Amelio. A Polish TikToker, Max Mazurek, told Wired he had no idea there was a Zynn profile with 25k followers in his name.

Some of these scammers seemed to be using the fake accounts to cash in on Zynn’s incentives. Someone impersonated TikToker Addison Rae mainly just to publicize their referral code. “Use my code DJMA8VS to receive a special offer of $20!!!” one post said.

One small mystery: Many stolen videos are time-stamped on Zynn all the way back to February — even though Zynn wasn’t available in the US until May.

The boom times might be over for Zynn

Although Zynn quickly set up a new page for people to report stolen videos, don’t expect a fast rebound.

Apple said it was looking into Zynn, and US Sen. Josh Hawley wrote a letter asking the FTC to investigate the app. Hawley said it “smacks of a textbook predatory-pricing scheme.”

Worst of all, Zynn told the Financial Times that it’s planning to ditch its bonus payments. As someone who was just one referral away from that $110, I cannot express my disappointment enough.

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