TikTok Alternative Zigazoo Wants to Be 100% Bot-Free

Bots have infiltrated just about every social network out there, but Zigazoo founder Zak Ringelstein is confident his company’s TikTok alternative can effectively safeguard against 100% of them. The video-focused service, which is entering wide release Wednesday following its invite-only period, will employ human and AI vetting in an effort to ensure every account is legitimate.

Zigazoo, targeted at the Gen Z crowd, hopes to offer a space for positive, authentic interaction devoid of bot spam and deepfake manipulation. The three-year-old company got its start with a kids app and is now courting young adults.

“Every account will be vetted for authenticity by a real human,” said Ringelstein. “This will take place on Zigazoo’s existing moderation infrastructure which has scaled to millions of downloads in the kids’ product. Using human-in-the-loop moderation at launch allows us to gradually train AI models to ensure maximum accuracy as scale requires a more automated approach.”

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Zigazoo Kids, an app that’s been widely available for some time, is not without its issues. Many reviews cite technical hiccups. But bots are not among the chief complaints, unlike other social apps.

Ringelstein isn’t just aiming to screen bots on sign-up. He’s also planning to look for ongoing bot activity in the form of AI-generated content.

“AI-generated content detection systems … will screen every piece of content and flag the offending videos to moderators,” he said, naming Dall-E and Midjourney as examples of AI tools Zigazoo is equipped to detect.

Despite the social network’s emphasis on positive, authentic interaction, Ringelstein said there would not be broad censorship in moderation practices.

“Human-in-the-loop moderation welcomes self-expression and weeds out harmful content but does not censor ideas or dialogue,” he said. “Every piece of video content is evaluated on dozens of dimensions based on a commitment to creating a community around positivity and authenticity.”

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Where that leaves authentic but potentially hurtful content remains to be seen. It’s also up in the air whether a truly bot-free social network can persist against rapidly evolving AI tools. But that’s not going to stop Zigazoo from trying. The company has received backing from the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Serena Williams’ venture capital fund and the NBA.

Zigazoo also secured a multi-year partnership with the NBA that kicks off Thursday tied to the NBA Finals. The promotional campaign will include a “series of challenges and questions” for users of both the kids and Gen Z-focused apps, the company said in a press release.

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