Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

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The new Instagram feature will let users record and edit 15-second videos with audio, and will let users add visual effects. Users will be able to share Reels with followers on Instagram in a dedicated section called Reels in Explore. — Courtesy photo
The new Instagram feature will let users record and edit 15-second videos with audio, and will let users add visual effects. Users will be able to share Reels with followers on Instagram in a dedicated section called Reels in Explore. — Courtesy photo

WASHINGTON — Facebook Inc.’s Instagram photo-sharing app is launching its clone of TikTok in more than 50 countries.

The new Instagram feature will let users record and edit 15-second videos with audio, and will let users add visual effects. Users will be able to share Reels with followers on Instagram in a dedicated section called Reels in Explore.

It will be embedded into Instagram in the United States and elsewhere, the company announced on Wednesday. The announcement comes a week after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the company’s copycat strategies to US lawmakers during an antitrust hearing.

The company 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’s Lasso, a separate application with similar features that was tested in limited markets, was shut down last month after it failed to win over an audience.

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.

TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance Ltd., faces either a ban in the US or a sale to a US owner, possibly Microsoft Corp. Trump and other officials say TikTok is a threat to national security because the Chinese government may have access to data from Americans. TikTok has repeatedly denied the allegations. — Agencies

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