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Facebook launched its TikTok competitor Reels, a feature of Instagram, into the U.S. and other markets on Wednesday. Photo: Bloomberg

Facebook Takes On TikTok: The Information’s Tech Briefing

Photo: Facebook launched its TikTok competitor Reels, a feature of Instagram, into the U.S. and other markets on Wednesday. Photo: Bloomberg

Facebook has never been shy about drawing inspiration from competitors. It was already preparing a rival to TikTok—Instagram Reels—even as concern about TikTok’s Chinese ownership reached a fever pitch in recent months. So it wasn’t surprising when Instagram quickly rolled out Reels in India shortly after the government started banning Chinese apps in late June. 

The social network seems to be following a similar strategy in the U.S. now that President Trump has talked about banning the app, which could force it into a complicated merger with Microsoft. (In the latest salvo, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced late Wednesday that the Administration would try to block “untrusted” apps like TikTok and WeChat from mobile app stores.)

There’s good reason for Facebook to be excited about the opportunity for Reels in the U.S. and the dozens of other countries where the feature is now available. As we reported last month, after India banned TikTok, usage of Facebook’s apps increased roughly 15% in the country. An Instagram exec said this week that the reception to Reels in India informed its quick rollout in the U.S. and elsewhere. One source at the company told us a TikTok ban could result in a similar 10%-20% rise in the use of Facebook’s existing properties in the U.S.— Laura Mandaro

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