Instagram has officially launched its own version of the popular social media app TikTok. On Wednesday, Instagram unveiled its TikTok copycat named “Reels” in the United States and more than 50 other countries.
Reels is a virtual knock-off of TikTok where Instagram users can create 15-second videos. The videos can be set to music or audio and featuring special effects — does that sound familiar?
“We’ve been very clear in products in the past that we’re inspired by other companies,” Instagram head of product Vishal Shah said while unveiling the feature, as transcribed by CNN Business. “At the same time, these things are not invented in any one place. … Everyone’s kind of figuring out ways to make these products their own.”
Hellooooo, Reels 🙌
Introducing a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram.
Reels is rolling out today to more than 50 countries around the world.
— Instagram (@instagram) August 5, 2020
You can read the full press release here.
The release of Instagram Reels comes at a time where President Donald Trump has publicly considered the Chinese-owned TikTok app over national security concerns.
The U.S. government currently characterizes TikTok as a “mass surveillance and propaganda” facilitator and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the United States is considering banning the app altogether because of the security risk.
“We’re certainly looking at [banning TikTok],” Pompeo said, via CNBC. “We’ve worked on this very issue for a long time. Whether it was the problems of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure, we’ve gone all over the world and we’re making real progress getting that out. We declared ZTE a danger to American national security. With respect to Chinese apps on peoples’ cell phones, the United States will get this one right too.”
TikTok is based in Beijing and owned by the tech company ByteDance. It has been downloaded over 110 million times in the United States.
The company, however, claims that its servers are based out of China and that they are committed to transparency for its users. The app is also not available within China.
“At TikTok, we take these issues incredibly seriously as well. We are committed to transparency and accountability in how we support our TikTok users in the US and around the world,” the statement from TikTok read. “TikTok does not remove content based on sensitivities related to China. We have never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and we would not do so if asked. Period.”
TikTok was first launched in 2017 and is available for download on iOS and Android devices. Earlier this year, TikTok hit one billion downloads globally with the app available in over 150 markets and 75 languages.