September 20, 2020

With TikTok Mired in Uncertainty, Facebook Pounces With Instagram Reels

“TikTok is doing big things in this format, as have apps and features like Snap, YouTube and others,” Instagram said in a statement. It added that it had also seen the rise of short-videos on its service. “No two services are the same and this responsiveness to consumer demand is competition at work and one of the longtime hallmarks of the tech sector,” it said. “It increases choice, which is good for people.”

TikTok declined to comment.

Facebook has a history of cloning features or apps from its competitors. Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, rolled out a product called Stories for Instagram and Facebook in 2016 and 2017, respectively, as a response to the rise of the app Snapchat. Stories was a near-exact copy of Snapchat’s Stories, which let people chronicle their days and can be set to disappear.

Facebook’s move dented Snapchat’s growth, according to documents that Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, filed for its initial public offering in 2017. Evan Spiegel, Snapchat’s founder, has expressed frustration at Facebook’s willingness to copy its competitors.

In a memo to employees this week, executives at TikTok’s parent company criticized Facebook. Zhang Yiming, chief executive of ByteDance, said that he wished to expand as a global company but that TikTok faced an “intense international political environment, the collision and conflict of different cultures, and the plagiarism and smear of competitor Facebook.” Mr. Zhang noted the “complex and unimaginable difficulties” his company has faced over the past year, and that it has only grown worse under the “unfair” treatment from the Trump administration.

In a congressional hearing last month with other tech chief executives, Mr. Zuckerberg pointed to China and products like TikTok as innovation that the United States should be worried about, and that TikTok’s ascendancy was grounds to avoid unduly harsh regulation against American companies.

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