Instagram Launches TikTok Rival, Reels

As Microsoft Corp. races to complete its purchase of TikTok, the trendy Chinese app that allows teens to share lip-syncing videos, Facebook’s Instagram debuted its answer to the popular platform on Wednesday (Aug. 5).

“Today we’re announcing Instagram Reels, a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram,” Facebook wrote on its blog.

Reels allows users to create 15-second videos using editing tools that are embedded in Instagram’s camera, such as a timer, countdown clock and a new align tool, which gives creators a simple way to edit video. As an added bonus, it will include music from a giant library Instagram recently licensed from music labels, Facebook wrote.

“Reels in Explore offers anyone the chance to become a creator on Instagram and reach new audiences on a global stage,” Facebook said.

Reels can be recorded in a series of clips, all at once, or using video uploads from the user’s gallery.

Whether Instagram users have a public or private account, they can share it with friends or in a direct message.

Last month, PYMNTS reported Facebook’s plans to roll out Reels in the U.S. and 50 additional nations. Reels was first introduced in Brazil, Germany and France last year.

It’s unclear how much success Reels will have with the Gen Z generation who have helped transform TikTok from an obscure video-posting website to one with global impact.

To encourage TikTok users with large followings to consider Reels, Instagram has extended cash incentives, The Wall Street Journal reported.

President Donald Trump, who has threatened to ban TikTok because he alleged China is using it to spy on Americans — a charge TikTok denies — has said he favors the apps’ purchase by an American company.

This week, Trump said it could be easier if Microsoft were to buy TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, in its entirety, not just a piece of it, and that Microsoft should pay the U.S. Treasury as part of the deal.

“I think buying 30 percent is complicated,” Trump told reporters at the White House, discussing a conversation over the weekend with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

“It’s a little bit like the landlord/tenant, without a lease, the tenant has nothing, so they pay what’s called ‘key money,’ or they pay something,” Trump said. “But the United States should be reimbursed or should be paid a substantial amount of money, because without the United States they don’t have anything, at least having to do with the 30 percent.”