TikTok, already under fire by the Trump administration over security concerns, now faces a potential new threat - competition from Instagram.
Instagram on Wednesday unveiled Reels - a video platform that lets users record short mobile-friendly videos, then add special effects and music.
The launch of Reels escalates a bruising fight between Facebook – which owns Instagram - and TikTok, as both have been eager to attract American teenagers, many of whom have flocked to TikTok in the last two years.
TikTok’s Chief Executive called Reels a “copycat product.”
Facebook’s heard that before – as recently as last week, when lawmakers on Capitol Hill suggested the tech giant copied another rival, Snapchat, with its Stories feature.
Reels in fact is Facebook’s second attempt to knock off TikTok. It quietly launched a standalone app called Lasso in late 2018 which did not gain much traction and was shuttered just last month.
Capitalizing on Instagram’s substantial user base however could give Reels a significant leg up.
Its debut comes days after Microsoft said it was in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations from China’s ByteDance. ByteDance has agreed to divest parts of TikTok, sources have said, under pressure from the White House which has threatened to ban Tik Tok in U.S. and other Chinese-owned apps over data security concerns.
TikTok, meanwhile, on Wednesday said it updated its content policies to curb misinformation on the platform ahead of the U.S. presidential election.