Facebook has launched “Instagram Reels”, a new feature that’s reportedly a TikTok clone.
The new feature will let users record and edit 15-second videos with audio, and will let users add visual effects.
The new feature will be available in the Instagram app and will allow users to share Reels with followers in Instagram in a dedicated section called Reels in Explore, or in the Story feature where posts disappear after 24 hours.
The social media giant has been testing Reels in Brazil since November and in France, Germany and India since earlier this summer.
Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services. The Instagram “Story” feature, which lets people share photos and videos that expire in 24 hours, is similar to Snapchat. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced tough questioning about the company’s habit of copying rivals before a congressional hearing on July 29.
Instagram said it was instead an example of a feature being inspired by a competitor, but hopefully building on that base and adding new features.
“[Introducing] Stories in 2016 was one where we give full credit to Snapchat in terms of inventing the format and we then absolutely took it and made it our own,” Vishal Shah, Instagram’s vice president of product, told the Press Association.
“I think of short-form video in very much the same vein – TikTok certainly didn’t invent short-form video, I think they’ve done a lot of really amazing work to make it their own, and I think we’ve been inspired by that great work, but then want to take that and integrate that into Instagram in a different way.”
Facebook earlier launched a TikTok knockoff called Lasso in 2018, but closed that down in July. It also tried services similar to Snapchat called Slingshot and Poke before Instagram Stories caught on. But those were separate apps – it might have more success with a feature built into Instagram.
In fact, copying Snapchat’s features was successful for Instagram in part because Snapchat was difficult to figure out for new users. They were already comfortable with Instagram. But TikTok is very easy to use – easier than Instagram – and part of its appeal is that you’re able to sit back and scroll endlessly with just swipes, without the need to follow anyone or post anything.
For Reels to succeed, Facebook will have to lure video creators away from TikTok. This might be easier to do with Reels since many creators are already on Instagram.