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It’s rare for a month to go by without a controversy to blow up involving ByteDance. Unusually, however, this month’s has nothing to do with its TikTok app. An investigation by BuzzFeed News focuses on Flipagram, a video-sharing app that was one of the precursors to TikTok.

It claims that in 2017 ByteDance “scraped short-form videos, usernames, profile pictures, and profile descriptions from Instagram, Snapchat, and other sources and then uploaded them — without users’ knowledge or consent — to Flipagram”.

The article sets out the evidence, along with a statement from ByteDance’s spokesperson. “ByteDance acquired Flipagram in 2017 and operated it, and subsequently Vigo [the renamed version of the app] for a short time. Flipagram and Vigo ceased operations years ago and aren’t connected to any current ByteDance products.”

If this is ringing some bells for longtime Music Ally readers, that’s because Flipagram was firmly focused on music in its pre-ByteDance days. It raised $70m in 2015 and signed licensing deals with all three major labels, while energetically recruiting more than 1,000 verified musicians to its app, before ultimately being bought by ByteDance (through its Toutiao news-app) early in 2017.

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