In another universe, this year in tech might have been defined by TikTok’s survival of numerous assassination attempts. Just as the (first) TikTok ban came down, Instagram swooped in with Reels; today, Snapchat announced that it’s launching a TikTok copycat feature called Spotlight. It’s not the first TikTok ripoff and won’t be the last.
Spotlight is now available in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and France. You can find it under a play button on the far right side of the bottom bar of the Snapchat camera screen. TikTok users will find very little distinction between their preferred interface this one: the swipe-up browsing, the track link in the corner, the graphic overlays, teens performing gravity-defying backflips. Look:
In order to get paid via Spotlight, creators have to submit a video which reaches a “value threshold” (an equivalent) of over $250 over the course of one day. Snapchat determines the monetary value of the video based on an opaque combination of engagement metrics “calculated using Pacific Time, based on our payment formula.” I have no idea what this means. A Snapchat representative declined to elaborate.
Sound like a hustle, and it’s more piecemeal than TikTok’s Creator Fund, which pays something closer to a supplemental, engagement-based income. But some recipients of TikTok’s fund have complained that they’re making nothing and have seen their views decline after joining.
There are minor distinctions:
- No one under 13 is allowed to use Snapchat; kids under 13 can use a parentally-monitored, child-friendly version of TikTok.
- You must be 16 to earn money through Spotlight; TikToks’s minimum for Creator Fund payment is 18
- ...that’s about it!
The success of Snapchat’s Spotlight may in the end hinge more on whether it can compete with TikTok’s algorithm, which has helped make ministars rather than flood the platform with Kardashians. It also depends on whether the Trump administration is serious about the TikTok ban or deal, which is anybody’s guess.