How Social Networks Are Trying to Profit from the TikTok Scandal

05 August 2020

Instagram is launching its Reels service in early August. The company is hoping that it will outperform TikTok. Other competitors of the Chinese platform have the same hopes. Adsider explains why the tech giants simultaneously started a war against TikTok and why it is not apparent yet who wins in it.

In November of last year, Facebook launched Reels in Brazil, and then in France and Germany. NBC News writes that the company is satisfied with the results of Reels testing — users are ready to make short videos on Instagram. The new application is set to launch in early August and is planned to be available in 50 countries.

Reels is Facebook’s answer to the worldwide expansion of TikTok. With the help of the new service, Instagram users will be able to create 15-second videos and add music to them like on TikTok. There will be instruments for video editing in Reels — for instance, the countdown timer and the video speed regulator.

Unlucky Streak

Instagram has sped up the launch of Reels because of the current challenges that TikTok is facing this year.

In late June, the Indian authorities banned 58 Chinese applications, among them, was TikTok This mass banning happened soon after the clashes between the Indian and Chinese military in the Galwan River valley area in Ladakh. About twenty Indian soldiers died. After the incident, the government decided that Chinese applications were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India” and harm the security of the state.

Later the White House suspected that the Chinese authorities are using the social network for surveillance and propaganda purposes.

TikTok has already had problems in the US. Two years ago, the company was caught illegally collecting the data of children younger than 13 without their parents’ consent. A year later, the American military was prohibited from using the app because of the data leak suspicions. Despite the severe accusations, the company continued to operate, although, in 2018 it had to pay a $5.7 million fine. Now, TikTok is about to get a harsher punishment. According to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the presidential administration is considering to ban the social network in the US.

Similar accusations against TikTok were also made in Australia. The local military has already been prohibited from using the app, and the government wants to ask TikTok management to open access to the platform to study data.

Soon after Pompeo’s statements, TikTok had to stop operation in Hong Kong, where the company faced pressure — this time, from China.

The representatives of the platform refused to comment on their decision. However, internet users think that by leaving rebellious Hong Kong, the company backed down.

Earlier this month, the internet giants Facebook, Google, and Twitter temporarily refused to process requests of local authorities to check data. Google said that the reason for this decision was the law about national security in Hong Kong that was passed by the Standing Committee of National People’s Congress in China. Among other things, this law allows the Chinese authorities to accuse the participants in protest meetings as separatists, terrorists, undermining the state authority, and colluding with the foreign authorities. And while the Internet giants refused to cooperate with the Chinese authorities, the fact that TikTok stopped operations seemed like escaping — or playing along with censorship.

Fight for the Audience

The ban on TikTok pushed its competitors into action. Snapchat started testing navigation with two feeds like in TikTok, and YouTube launched a new mobile app feature that will allow users to record 15-second videos.

It is not yet known when Reels will officially launch in the US, however, if the Trump administration bans TikTok, Instagram has a good chance at attracting millions of new users. Last week, the company started acting. According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is offering popular TikTokers money for posting on Reels. And while the specific numbers remain unknown, according to the journalists’ sources, they amount to about a hundred thousand dollars. The bloggers had to sign an agreement that has a non-disclosure clause.

Despite TikTok going through not the best times, the company doesn’t plan on giving up. Last week, TikTok announced the establishment of its own fund of $200 million to support bloggers. The management of the company assures that the fund will grow. It is planned to distribute the money throughout the year.

Even if TikTok is banned in the US, it won’t be easy to gain its audience. According to Sarah Perez of TechCrunch, the Chinese social network’s audience is already finding new platforms. The dancers prefer the apps Dubsmash and Triller.

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