File picture: Reuters
File picture: Reuters

Is Instagram Reels a TikTok rip-off?

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Aug 17, 2020

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Johannesburg - Reels, Instagram’s newest feature, was launched by the app last week and people are already calling it a TikTok rip-off.

In the announcement made by Facebook on August 5, they shared that the feature is “A new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram.”

Many influencers have already hopped onto the app’s latest addition, filling up their grid with everything from playful videos of life under lockdown to showing off their new merch, outfits of the day and even trying out viral challenges and dance trends.

However, some people aren’t convinced, calling the feature unnecessary. One of those people is Kurt Wagner of Bloomberg Business who took to Twitter to share his thoughts: “Instagram, which was once known for its simplicity, has become too cluttered and complicated as Facebook keeps stuffing it with new features to fight off competitors.”

If you can’t beat ‘em join em

Wagner’s tweet hints at the fact that Facebbok, the owner of Instagram, added on the rather nifty “Stories” feature to their app when Snapchat was at its height of popularity. Snapchat is another picture and video-sharing app that became well-loved by teens because of its main attraction - enticing filters and the fact that pictures and messages are only available for a short period before they become inaccessible to recipients. The ‘Instagram Stories’ feature is rather similar in that they have a whole array of whimsical filters and stories disappear from the sharer’s public profile after 24 hours too.

The American social media conglomerate, Facebook, Inc. consists of separate teams dedicated to creating new apps and scavenging the market for the next best thing created by far smaller startup companies. According to an article by Wired, that approach fell flat with Snapchat. “When Facebook tried to buy it in 2013, Snapchat founder and CEO Evan Spiegel turned down the offer—reportedly more than $3 billion. For Zuckerberg, Snapchat became the one that got away. And Snapchat kept moving up and up, attracting more users and stealing more photos and videos that users formerly posted to Facebook or Instagram,” Wired reported.

Reels, which invites users to create 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects and new creative tools, came less than a month after emails from April 2012 were released as part of a House Judiciary Committee probe. They revealed that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other senior officials were contemplating the benefits of fast tracking the sluggish nature of internal prototyping by adapting and adopting the features of smaller apps. “In China there is this strong culture of cloning things quickly and building lots of different products,” Zuckerberg wrote in one of his messages, going on to express that he felt Facebook was moving “rather slowly” compared to other companies. Hinting at his future plans to absorb competing companies, he wrote, “I wonder what we could do to move a lot faster.”

If you’re all about the latest trends online, you can get acquainted with Reels by clicking the ‘camera’ icon on your Instagram page. Then, swipe left to move from “Stories” over to “Reels” to start creating. According to the announcement, you can share reels with your followers in Feed and if you have a public account you can make them available to the wider Instagram community through a new space in Explore. Reels in Explore offers people the opportunity to become a creator and reach new audiences on a broader scale.


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