Facebook has launched its own version of social media rival TikTok in the United States and more than 50 other countries on Wednesday, embedding a new short-form video service called Reels as a feature within its popular Instagram app.
Reels’ debut comes days after Microsoft said it was in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations from China’s ByteDance. ByteDance has agreed to divest parts of TikTok, sources have said, under pressure from the White House, which has threatened to ban it and other Chinese-owned apps over data security concerns in the US.
It was reported that Reels was first tested in Brazil in 2018 and then later in France, Germany and India, which was TikTok’s biggest market until the Indian government banned it last month following a border clash with China. Facebook also tried out a standalone app called Lasso which did not gain attention.
Although Instagram has recruited young online stars like dancer Merrick Hanna and musician Tiagz – who was recently signed by Sony/ATV after rising to fame via TikTok memes – to test the product ahead of launch.
There have also been reports that Reels will become a threat to TikTok.