TikTok rival Byte hit by bot spam problems

Video-sharing app may be being plagued by spam bots as nefarious actors try to fake popularity.

Byte: platform launched by Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann
Byte: platform launched by Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann

Byte, the US social media competitor to TikTok, has reported teething problems amid a surge in bot activity. 

The new app, created by Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann, quietly launched last Friday via an announcement on the company's online forum. It is widely seen as a competitor to TikTok, the fast-growing video-sharing platform, owned by Chinese company Bytedance. 

Byte enables users to create and upload looping six-second videos. It has the usual trappings of a social platform, such as a home feed, explore page, notifications and profiles, but currently lacks advanced editing tools found in TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.

However, following complaints about spam comments appearing on videos that appeared to be generated by bots, Hofmann said in a blog post that the company was working "very hard" to address the issue.

Hofmann added: "In the medium term, we’ll be making more dramatic changes to comments including a) the ability to like comments, and b) the abilities to block/filter/limit commenting.

"We are also ramping up on video moderation and you should see improvements there very soon. Once things stabilise, we’ll be back to focusing on new features, including new discovery and creation features. And we’ll also be sharing some details on the pilot version of our partner program very soon."

Hofmann has made it clear that Byte will focus on monetisation options for creators early on. Byte announced in a Tweet that it would introduce a pilot version of a partner programme that would "compensate" creators. 

The reason for the surge in bots could be a result of creators trying to game the monetisation system by making posts appear more popular than they really are.

In an interview with TechCrunch on Friday, Hofmann also revealed Byte woud offer ad revenue sharing and other options to partners. 

Vine was a popular app that offered a similar service until it was bought by Twitter and eventually shut down. 

While TikTok has been growing rapidly and expanding its US and European operations significantly under the watchful eye of ex-Facebook executive Blake Chandlee, Byte is a small operation with fewer than 20 employees.


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