Photo-sharing app Instagram has launched (August 6) its new video sharing feature Reels in a bid to rival leading video-sharing app TikTok and capitalise on the growing political tensions happening in the US.

The product lets users create and edit 15-second videos along with music, similar to TikTok. The feature has been rolled out in over 50 countries, including the US, where discussions around the data-privacy of TikTok and a potential ban from President Donald Trump continue.

Reels videos will show up in the Instagram Explore tab, where users of the app can see content from accounts they aren’t already following.

“The timing happens to be coincidental in some ways,” said Vishal Shah, the head of product at Instagram, according to reports.

The benefit of building Reels within Instagram, Shah added, is the existing network of more than 1 billion users.

“It’s more difficult to get people to download a new app than use one they already own,” he said; Reels will also give Instagram users a new opportunity to get famous, beyond the following they already have.”

A redirect for creators?

TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, faces a ban in the US with Microsoft in discussions to purchase the video-sharing app by September 15. Trump and other officials have argued TikTok is a threat to national security because the Chinese government may have access to data from Americans users. TikTok has repeatedly denied the allegations.

With the latest developments from Instagram, the timing of it couldn’t be more apparent as other rival starters and brands are considering their options if the situation of TikTok doesn’t change. Loyalty and transparency are on the agenda with some rival apps now upping their game to lure users and brands away from TikTok as the market shakes up.

In addition, the pressure from Trump has prompted some TikTok creators to redirect their audiences to Instagram, hoping for a more stable future in case TikTok is banned.

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