Social media giant Instagram launched Reels on August 5th in the US, a feature that is everything if not a carbon copy of TikTok. The company also released the feature in more than 50 other countries as well, including the UK, Brazil, India, and Germany.
Instagram previewed the short-form video feature in a Zoom demo with reporters ahead of the launch. The presentation included examples of users doing choreographed dances and comedy skits, two of the most prominent and popular content genres for TikTok. Much like the platform they are clearly trying to replicate, Reels allows Instagram users to create 15-second videos and set them to music or audio clips, with the ability to add special effects.
Adding insult to injury, the US launch of Reels comes in the wake of TikTok's growing controversy, as it tries to fend off being banned in the States. The social media platform faces uncertainty about its future, as President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app while a potential takeover by Microsoft hung in the balance. He then scaled back on his threat, changing the dialogue to say that if an acquisition of TikTok doesn't include a "substantial amount of money" going to the US Treasury, the ban would remain intact. "It's created almost a perfect storm for Instagram to release this thing," said Joe Gagliese, CEO of influencer marketing firm Viral Nation.
For Facebook, the additional momentum for Reels could prove to be both a gift and a curse. The week before Reels launched, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress and was questioned relentlessly alongside other major tech CEOs about anti-competitive practices. In particular, Zuckerberg was questioned about copying rivals.The release of 'Reels' only works to heighten the scrutiny surrounding the growing concerns of anti-competitive practices.
"It's created almost a perfect storm for Instagram to release this thing,"Joe Gagliese, co-founder and CEO of Viral Nation