Facebook Speeds Up Its Rollout of Instagram Reels as TikTok Faces Scrutiny

The clone feature is coming to over 50 countries in early August, including the US

Reels on an iPhone when it began testing in Brazil last November Instagram

Facebook smelled TikTok’s blood in the social media waters, prompting it to bring Instagram’s Reels feature, which mimics the embattled video creation platform’s functionality, to more than 50 countries in the coming weeks, including the U.S.

TikTok has been facing heat due to the Chinese ties of its parent company, ByteDance, although ByteDance claims to be headquartered in the Cayman Islands.

Late last month, India banned 59 applications with ties to China, including TikTok—a major blow, as India was the top country for TikTok downloads, with 46.6 million just in February, according to app analytics provider Sensor Tower.

Not surprisingly, Facebook swooped in and rolled out Reels in India last week.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the administration of President Donald Trump was considering a ban of TikTok, but the jury is out on whether it has the authority to do so.

Lo and behold, Instagram confirmed Thursday that it will bring Reels to over 50 countries—including Japan, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S.—in early August.

A spokesperson for Facebook said, “We’re excited to bring Reels to more countries, including the U.S., in early August. The community in our test countries has shown so much creativity in short-form video, and we’ve heard from creators and people around the world that they’re eager to get started, as well.”

Reels enables people to create short-form videos with music or other audio, lasting up to 15 seconds, as well as to adjust the speed and time of each clip, just as TikTok users can do via that application’s video editor.


Developer and blogger Jane Manchun Wong uncovered early testing of the feature, originally known as Clips, last September.

Instagram officially began testing Reels in Brazil last November, where it was known as Cenas, and that test was extended to France and Germany last month.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.