Facebook launches a new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

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Facebook shuttered its earlier efforts at a video app earlier this year, named Lasso, which had been available to users in the United States and central America. The format mimics TikTok videos, although the video-sharing app allows for longer clips, leading many in the industry to label Reels as a direct challenger to TikTok which has surged in popularity in recent months.

The company launched a new "Instagram Reels" feature Wednesday that allows users to record 15-second multi-clip videos enhanced with licensed audio, effects and creative tools. The company recruited young TikTok stars to use the new service ahead of its launch, offering to cover production costs.

The product, called Reels, lets people edit 15-second clips of videos together alongside music, just like on TikTok. "With the tap of a button, you can scroll through Reels nearly exactly like you scroll through your For You page, falling into the same kind of mindless, addictive scroll-hole that has made TikTok a favorite pandemic time-waster of millions".

It mimics numerous features available on TikTok, which has been growing rapidly around the world since it first launched in 2016.

TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance Ltd., faces either a ban in the US or a potential spinoff and sale to a USA owner, possibly Microsoft Corp.

The new feature is being made available today in 50 countries around the globe, including the U.S., India and the United Kingdom, according to TechCrunch.

"Instagram has put a lot of effort into developing Reels and making it attractive to TikTok users and the creators who work on the app, but I'm not sure it can replace TikTok", Williamson added. "Even if TikTok were to be banned in the U.S".

Since early July, some TikTok users have been posting videos urging viewers to follow them to other platforms like Instagram, reflecting the threat of a TikTok ban.

From today it will be open to users worldwide.