Byte, which lets users shoot and upload six-second videos, is from Dom Hoffman, the co-founder of Vine, the beloved short video platform which was axed by Twitter in 2017.
Hoffman has been working on Byte for a while, firstly as V2, before announcing the new name for the social platform back in 2018. Despite expectations that the app would land in 2019, it’s taken a little longer but now the app is officially available to download on iOS and Android.
The app looks similar to other social platforms in that there is a rolling feed showing what the accounts you’re following are up to, an explore page and profiles. There is also going to be a section in the explore page which will allow you to view posts handpicked by Byte’s editors.
One way Byte appears to make itself stand out from the other social apps such as TikTok and Instagram is by offering a partner programme to creators from the start which will allow people to start monetising their Byte videos and profiles. Hoffman told TechCrunch that the platform will offer revenue sharing with creators, the same way YouTube allows accounts to make money from ads. More details on this will be coming soon, he added.
It’s very early days for Byte so there will be issues that need to be straightened out. Hoffman took to the platform’s community forum to addresses problems around comment spam that occurred over the weekend. He said the team was dealing with the problems and will continue to make other changes such as the ability to like comments as well as block, filter and limit commenting.
And whilst Byte is sure to have its work cut out for it facing down the behemoth that is TikTok, with over one billion users and counting, Byte does benefit from the fact it doesn’t have as many hang-ups as the Chinese-owned social network. Last year, its parent company ByteDance had to pay a $5.7 million fine to the US Federal Trade Commission after it was accused of violating child-privacy laws – the app now requires users to verify their age. TikTok has also come under fire for censoring content criticising the Chinese government for its treatment of Uighur Muslims as well as censoring videos that mention Tiananmen Square and Tibetan independence. The US military has banned soldiers from using the app on government phones, calling it a cyber threat.
As a new entrant, and a US-owned company too, Byte could be in a position to escape the scrutiny that TikTok regularly deals with and succeed as an alternative.
Women in tech podcast returns