Instagram Takes Aim at TikTok With Reels, Launching in Brazil
TikTok must feel attacked from all sides. First the U.S. government opened investigations on whether or not the platform is a security threat thanks to its Chinese parent company, Bytedance, and now Facebook's Instagram has launched a clone. Called Reels and available on iOS and Android in Brazil, the new platform looks a lot like TikTok, and invites members to create 15-second music videos they can share with their followers.
Reels videos are meant to be quick and fun, just like those on TikTok. Creators can add music from a vast catalog of tracks, or use the audio from an existing Reels video. Creators can also use editing tools to add captions where they're needed or blend different shots. Reels is debuting in Brazil since music and social networks have a strong appeal, and TikTok doesn't yet have much of a following.
The biggest difference in the two platforms seems to be distribution. While TikTok videos go out to anyone who wants to see them, Reels can be posted publicly or shared through Instagram's social graph. That makes Reels a bit more private, which could appeal to people who only want friends to see their creations.
This isn't the first time Facebook has cloned a rival, as Instagram Stories was created to attract Snapchat's audience. It's also not the first time Facebook has copied TikTok, as it debuted competitor Lasso in November 2018. Considering that TikTok has 122 million users in the U.S. and 1.5 billion worldwide, it's an attractive target. Facebook hasn't said when or if it will bring Reels to U.S. viewers.
Although governments around the world have restricted or outlawed the use of TikTok, the state of Montana last week became one of the first jurisdictions to extend the ban to consumer users as well. Other states may well follow and while there are challenges to the proposed law creators reliant on the platform would do well not seek out other options should the noose tighten in the run up to the 2024 presidential election.
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