Facebook will reportedly release its looping-video platform Reels to more than 50 countries in the coming weeks, which is just long enough for you to remember it has a name outside of ‘Facebook’s TikTok Clone.’
NBC News reports Reels bears many similarities to TikTok, the shit-hot video app which now boasts more than 1.6 million Australian users.
Like TikTok, Reels allows users to craft 15-second clips, pinch sounds from other creators, and catch popular Reels in a dedicated feed.
Unlike TikTok, Reels will benefit from integration with Instagram, Facebook’s other social media darling. Users will be able to post their new clips to the grid, exposing unsuspecting followers to content designed to go viral.
Facebook has already tested Reels in Brazil, France, and Germany, but it’s not immediately clear if Australia is among the next 50 countries shortlisted to feel the Reel.
The decision to offer Reels worldwide comes amid unprecedented scrutiny on TikTok for its data handling and security practices, centred on accusations that TikTok user data is vulnerable to access by the Chinese Government.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, was banned from India last month, after the the Indian Government claimed TikTok and 58 other Chinese-owned apps threatened the nation’s “sovereignty and integrity”.
Notably, Facebook soft-launched Reels in India just days after the TikTok ban.
India isn’t the only nation to spark concerns about the app. The US is also talking a big game about restricting access to TikTok, and Australian politicians want to drag TikTok representatives before a Senate inquiry.
TikTok has strongly denied any claims of dodginess, with a spokesperson saying “TikTok does not share information of our users in Australia with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government, and would not do so if asked.”
The social media upstart also launched an ad in Australian newspapers this week, saying “Australia’s data has always been secure with us.”
Of course, Facebook has never played fast and loose with user data and has never been implicated in a security breach, so Reels will probably roll out just fine.
Keep an eye on your Instagram page next month, folks.