NBC News reports that Reels' global launch arrives as TikTok comes up against further review from the U.S. government due to the app’s management of user data, as tensions heighten between the U.S. and China.
Reels boasts a number of similar features to TikTok, including allowing users to create and share 15-second video clips and pair them with music, borrow and remix audio from other users' videos, and view viral clips in a new “Featured Reels” section. Facebook has been working on the launch for over a year.
Brazil was the first country to use Reels in November, with Facebook later expanding to France and Germany in June. In just the last week, the feature was also launched in India, a country that has banned TikTok and over 50 other Chinese apps, due to worries about privacy and security.
Now Facebook is gearing up to launch Reels in the U.S., U.K., Japan, Mexico, among many more nations. The feature will be accessible through a new icon at the bottom of the Instagram app, and videos made with Reels will appear on the main feed or Explore page for public accounts.
Facebook’s move to mimic TikTok isn’t novel: with Instagram Stories, Facebook mimicked similar aspects of Snapchat. With Reels, Facebook might have a chance to stymie its rival’s progress. “We are in a place where we have to be willing to acknowledge when someone did something awesome and try to learn from it,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, told NBC News when asked about Snapchat.
The news outlet points out that TikTok’s popularity might prevent the government from obstructing the use of it, particularly as there are over 30 million active users in the U.S.—and because TikTok embraces the spirit of the times.
Outside of its cultural relevance, TikTok has become something of a controversial app for the U.S., as the government fears the Chinese-based company is violating user privacy and sharing data with the Chinese government. While TikTok has rejected these accusations, the White House is still examining whether to ban the app in the U.S.