On Wednesday, Facebook launched its own version of social media rival TikTok, embedding a new short-form video service called Reels as a feature in its popular Instagram app.
The debut comes days after Microsoft said that it was in talks to acquire US operations of TikTok from ByteDance in China. In response to pressure from the White House, which threatened to ban it and other Chinese apps on data protection grounds, ByteDance has agreed to divest parts of TikTok. Sources say.
Reels’ launch escalates a raging war between Facebook and TikTok, with each casting the other as a threat. Both were willing to draw Americans, many of whom in the last two years flocked to TikTok.
Reels was first screened in Brazil in 2018, but then in France, Germany and India, the largest market of TikTok before last month, after a border conflict with China, the Indian government banished it. Facebook has also tried a stand-alone Lasso app, which hasn’t been trained much.
Like TikTok, users of Reel can record short vertical mobile images, add special effects and soundtracks from a musical library.
Such similarities led Kevin Mayer, CEO of TikTok, to call Reels a “copycat product,” which could coast on the huge established user base of Instagram after “their other copycat Lasso failed quickly”.