FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Instagram logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Facebook’s Instagram officially launched Instagram Reels, a new feature that allows users to “record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools.” Videos can be shared on Feeds or made publicly available through a new space within Explore. The feature has been referred to as the company’s “answer to the hit short video app TikTok.” Reels was rolled out in Brazil last November and then expanded to France and Germany in June and India in July.

The announcement comes as TikTok faces a potential ban in the U.S., as well as a potential purchase by Microsoft. Last month, TikTok Chief Executive Kevin Mayer called Reels a “copycat product” to TikTok, adding that his company welcomes the competition. On Sunday, ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, accused Facebook of “plagiarism and smears.” Robby Stein, director of product for Instagram, said, “At the end of the day, these products are just a piece of video, a creative tool, and a way to look at it. We’ve really focused on how this type of format could work within the Instagram community.” Vishal Shah stated that Reels has been in development for more than a year and added that the timing of the launch is coincidental.

Facebook’s strategy of copying rivals came up during congressional antitrust hearings last week, where CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified alongside the CEOs of Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon. Rep. Pramila Jayapal cited documents outlining how Facebook working on a camera feature similar to Instagram was used to pressure Instagram’s co-founder Kevin Systrom into agreeing to an acquisition. Zuckerberg said that the company has “adapted features” from competitors to stay ahead. 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Facebook launches its TikTok rival, Instagram Reels – Axios – 8/5/2020
Facebook has a long record — sometimes successful, sometimes not — of adopting features that have proven popular on rival platforms and rolling them out to its billions of users worldwide in an effort to avoid being eclipsed by younger upstarts. Reels enters the fray as TikTok, threatened with a ban by President Trump because of its Chinese ownership, has opened negotiations to be acquired by Microsoft.

Facebook’s Instagram Launches TikTok Copycat in Political Storm – Bloomberg – 8/5/2020
Facebook Inc.’s Instagram photo-sharing app is launching its clone of TikTok in more than 50 countries, a week after Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg defended the company’s copycat strategies to U.S. lawmakers at an antitrust hearing.

Instagram’s answer to TikTok is here – Vox – 8/5/2020
Reels is essentially Facebook’s answer to TikTok, just as Instagram Stories were a pretty blatant copy of Snapchat’s own disappearing Story feature. Reels and TikTok are, for the most part, functionally identical, and Instagram is positioning it as such: as a place to hop onto trending memes and dances, to create goofy content, and perhaps, ultimately, to find fame.

Instagram Reels debuts as competitor to TikTok – Fox Business – 8/5/2020
Its launch comes as President Trump is aiming to ban rival social media platform TikTok over national security concerns. The stock of Facebook – Instagram’s owner – has risen slightly following the rollout of the “Reels” feature.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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