TIKTOK has been accused of copying its biggest rival after developers gave the booming app a surprise makeover.
A new profile design rolled out this week by Chinese app-maker ByteDance looks remarkably similar to the profile layout used by Instagram.
TikTok has more than 1.5billion downloads and is one of the most popular apps of the past decade – an impressive feat considering it only launched in 2016.
Owned by Zhang Yiming, China’s ninth richest man, the app is beloved by teens and pre-teens, who watch and share short videos centred on music and meme-based humour.
The app’s profile overhaul, rolled out to select users as part of early tests, was spotted by New York Times journalist Taylor Lorenz.
“Looks like TikTok is redesigning user profiles to look almost exactly like Instagram,” she tweeted on Monday.
TikTok’s new look shifts follow counts and avatars to the left, and makes bios more prominent.
Instagram profiles also have their avatars and follow counts lumped on the left hand side, with plenty of emphasis on bios.
TikTok confirmed in a statement that it was testing a redesign.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve the user experience on TikTok,” a spokesperson told The Sun.
“We are currently testing profile designs and functionality to ultimately give users more ways to personalise and engage with their profiles.”
Social media giants often “borrow” ideas from one another in their frantic bids to win over more users.
Instagram is no stranger to the tactic, famously copying Snapchat’s self-destructing posts when it created Instagram Stories.
On Twitter, several tech blogs noted that TikTok’s new design was remarkably similar to Instagram’s.
“TikTok is trying a client profile overhaul that is amazingly like Instagram,” wrote TechInfonics.
“Is TikTok trying to copy Instagram? Looks like it,” wrote HindustanTimesTech.
What is TikTok?
Here’s the official description from the NSPCC’s Net Aware…
- TikTok is a social media app where users can record and upload short video clips. In August 2018, TikTok merged with Musical.ly, meaning all users with Musical.ly accounts were moved to TikTok. We’ve pulled together some information about the app and how to keep your children safe while using it.
- The majority of clips in TikTok include young people lip syncing and dancing to songs or comedy sketches (skits). Users can watch clips posted by other members, and can set their videos to be viewed publicly to other users or privately to friends (also known as followers).
- Like Snapchat, TikTok has filters where users can record their videos. It also includes other additional video editing features such as slow motion or speeding up videos. What makes this app popular with young people is the collaborative element where TikTok users can reply to one another and do joint videos on a split screen or participate in user created challenges.
- TikTok users can send messages to each other within the app; privacy settings for this can be changed to allow a user to communicate with all other TikTok users or just to friends. TikTok has a similar social media element like Instagram and Twitter, where users can follow each other and like content.
- If your child is using TikTok, we recommend speaking to them about how they can use this app safely.
It’s not clear whether TikTok will choose to roll out the Instagram-like design to all of its users.
The Sun has contacted TikTok for comment.
TikTok was the world’s third most downloaded non-gaming app of 2019, overtaking both Facebook and Instagram, which came fourth and fifth respectively.
Its meteoric rise has not come without its controversies.
TikTok is also being investigated in the UK for the way it handles the personal data of its young users.
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