Facebook testing TikTok style short video formats in India

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The short-video format appears to be the flavour of the season. Now, Facebook is flirting with a new TikTok-clone within its larger app that would soon be competing with a dozen other clones of the Chinese app banned by India two months ago. 

And the new testing that is already underway in India, has nothing to do with its experiment with Lasso or a similar feature that Facebook launched on Instagram called Reels. TechCrunch says quoting company sources that the short-form video is being tested for India, which happens to be their biggest market by users. 

The short videos application is located within the news feed with a "Create" button sitting on top that launches Facebook Camera when tapped. Users can thereafter browse through videos by simply swiping up. 

The first report about the new short-video application came from Matt Navarra, a social media consultant who revealed it through his Twitter handle. Of course, at present there is little or no information about whether the testing would culminate in a launch or if Facebook would think it better to retain Reels or attempt to connect it back as it does with Stories. 

TechCrunch further quoted a spokesperson of the company to suggest that Facebook was continuously testing new tools in order to learn about how people seek to express themselves and that the idea of short-form videos obviously came from the success of TikTok, though they did not state it in as many words.

Why Facebook's move makes sense

Given that the ByteDance owned TikTok is facing challenges to its existence following the ban by India and a similar outcome looking more than likely in the United States, it is apt for the world's largest social platform to provide an alternative to TikTok users. Since, Facebook itself is very popular in India, an integration with the short-form videos could be a killer solution that would get the company a substantial user-base that is beyond any competitor. 

Facebook had launched Reels in India last month, well before it hit other markets and as a result the social media platform had registered a growth of almost 25% in daily engagement levels since TikTok got banned.  

We had earlier reported that Facebook was looking to poach the big stars in the TikTok stable through lucrative contracts, a report in the Wall Street Journal said.  Instagram has made lucrative offers to some of TikTok’s most popular creators to use the new service, Reels. The potential payments for some would be in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

On its part, TikTok has also remained in the headlines with reports of multiple suitors coming forward to take over its assets in the United States and India. Among the earliest was Microsoft and immediately on cue Twitter followed. However, what added to the shock value was a report that suggested Reliance Jio Platforms as a prospective suitor for the Chinese app. 

It now remains to be seen how long Facebook takes to test out the app and whether it would result in Reels fading away into obsolescence as has been the case with Lasso which the company decided to bury early last month.  

Raj Narayan

A media veteran who turned a gadget lover fairly recently. An early adopter of Apple products, Raj has an insatiable curiosity for facts and figures which he puts to use in research. He engages in active sport and retreats to his farm during his spare time.