A Parent's Guide to Lemon8: Is It Safe?
Concerns about social media safety grow every day, particularly when a new app enters the market. Lemon8, a video- and photo-sharing platform created by TikTok’s owner, is rapidly gaining interest around the globe, leaving parents to wonder what risks it might pose to their kids. The legal team at Social Media Victims Law Center is dedicated to seeking justice for children who have been harmed by social media platforms such as Lemon8.
Millions of users around the world have now found their way to the social media platform known as Lemon8. The app is designed for younger users, particularly influencers, who want to share still images and videos of moments from their everyday lives, from their meals to their clothing. While this may seem like harmless fun, Lemon8 has the potential to cause damage to children and teenagers as it becomes more popular.
Social Media Victims Law Center has taken on social media companies that endanger kids by exposing them to inappropriate, explicit, and violent content. While Lemon8 is in its early stages in the United States, its guidelines, policies, and structure are similar to those of other apps, including TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. It’s crucial to be fully aware of what Lemon8 is and how it might threaten your child’s well-being.
What Is Lemon8?
Lemon8 is a social media platform designed for sharing photos and videos. It’s often compared to Instagram and Pinterest because of its clean interface, bright colors, and focus on influencer culture.
Although Lemon8 has been available in countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand since 2020, it didn’t appear in app stores in the United States until February 2023. The timing of this unofficial launch coincided with a growing movement to institute a TikTok ban due to privacy and safety concerns.
Much of the content on Lemon8 centers around the following topics:
Posts on Lemon8 may encourage users to imitate the lifestyles of their favorite influencers. In addition to posting images and videos of their purchases, influencers can also tag the cost and location of an item, allowing followers to find and buy it.
Who Owns Lemon8?
ByteDance, the Chinese internet technology company best known for its social media app TikTok, owns Lemon8. As of May 2023, ByteDance has a reported value of $220 billion, making it the most valuable startup company in the world. Most of this value is due to the explosive popularity of TikTok, a phenomenon that the company is attempting to repeat with Lemon8.
Why Is Lemon8 So Popular?
The rapid rise in Lemon8’s popularity is no surprise, given the immense popularity of TikTok. Two factors have played an especially powerful role in driving the app’s growth—influencers and dissatisfaction with other social media apps.
ByteDance has made a concerted effort to push Lemon8 by collaborating with well-known influencers. A New York Times report recently revealed that ByteDance has paid influencers to post content promoting Lemon8.
This marketing attempt may have paid off. In March 2023, the Lemon8 app suddenly surged in popularity, becoming one of the 10 most popular apps in the United States. Before March, it had failed to break into the top 200 on the download charts.
Dissatisfaction With Other Apps
How Does Lemon8 Work?
The Lemon8 interface is divided into two sections: Following and For You. When browsing the Following tab, users only see posts from the accounts they follow. Users who want to see posts from unfamiliar accounts can check the For You tab.
In addition to viewing content from other accounts, Lemon8 users can also post their own videos or photos. Before posting, they can alter images with the app’s built-in editing tools and add captions with hashtags.
What's the Difference between Lemon8 and TikTok?
Although the same parent company owns Lemon8 and TikTok, they’re not identical twins. There are key differences between them, including the following:
- Content type: Lemon8 emphasizes still images, while TikTok only allows users to post videos.
- Focus: TikTok centers around content creation, while Lemon8 pushes influencer marketing.
- Content enhancements: Lemon8 has a large catalog of templates for images and captions but has more limited options than TikTok regarding music to add to videos.
TikTok and Lemon8 also differ significantly regarding media attention and political debate. Lemon8 has a much smaller number of users, so it hasn’t received much negative attention. Conversely, TikTok is under intense scrutiny, particularly as children have suffered severe injuries and death due to viral challenges.
Parents and concerned adults who aren’t fully aware of what TikTok is and how children use it can learn more by reviewing this Parent’s Guide to TikTok.
Is Lemon8 Safe for Kids?
Experts worldwide, including the U.S. Surgeon General, have warned about social media’s dangers for children and adolescents. Lemon8 may be fairly new to the social media landscape, but there’s little reason to believe it won’t pose the same dangers as other platforms.
Like all forms of social media, Lemon8 can be addictive and detrimental to children’s mental health. Social media is a popular forum for cyberbullying, which can lead to depression, anxiety, and suicide. Children active on social media are often exposed to disturbing content that can affect their state of mind.
This problem has become a serious concern for TikTok users. For example, in March 2023, Social Media Victims Law Center filed a wrongful death lawsuit against ByteDance and TikTok. The suit was filed following the death of a 16-year-old boy who received content recommendations from TikTok that his parents believe ultimately contributed to his death.
Lemon8’s community guidelines prohibit explicit content but make exceptions for educational, artistic, documentary, and scientific images. This language opens the door for a wide variety of harmful material that children are not psychologically or emotionally equipped to process. Although Lemon8 requires users to be 18 or older to sign up, it’s easy for kids to bypass the requirement by entering a different birth year. There is no age verification process.
How Can Children Be Protected from Lemon8?
Parents, teachers, and other concerned adults have become increasingly vocal about their concerns about social media safety. In the same month Lemon8 ascended to the top ten of the app download charts, a survey by the Pew Research Center found that 50 percent of Americans want to see TikTok banned.
As Lemon8 grows, similar concerns about this app are likely to arise. In addition to talking to your children about the dangers of social media, you should also monitor for signs of distress.
If you’re worried that Lemon8 or another social media platform has harmed your child, contact Social Media Victims Law Center for a free case evaluation.
Matthew P. Bergman