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Facebook tests changes to Instagram, would make it more like TikTok

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Adam Mosseri, Facebook

Beck Diefenbach | Reuters

Facebook’s head of Instagram on Wednesday announced the social network plans to start showing users full-screen, recommended videos in their feeds.

“We’re also going to be experimenting with how do we embrace video more broadly — full screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video,” Mosseri said in a video posted on Wednesday. “You’ll see us do a number of things, or experiment with a number of things in this space over the coming months.”

Specifically, Mosseri said Instagram has plans to show users full-screen videos in their feeds. This includes videos it recommends to users, including those from accounts they do not already follow. Users will start to see Instagram’s experiments with these changes over the coming months, he said.

“We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app,” Mosseri said.

This represents a drastic shift for Instagram, which has until now primarily been an app where users can see square-sized images from their friends and accounts they follow. The change in content presentation will align Instagram in more direct competition to Chinese-owned TikTok, an upstart in the social app market.

Mosseri specifically highlighted TikTok as well as YouTube, which is owned by Google, as serious competitors and reasons for these changes.

“Let’s be honest, there’s some really serious competition right now,” he said. “TikTok is huge, YouTube is even bigger, and there’s lots of other upstarts as well.”

Already, Instagram has made competing with TikTok a priority by launching Reels in August 2020. Reels is a short-form video feature that allows Instagram users to create content with overlaid audio and augmented reality effects, much as they already can on TikTok.

“People are looking to Instagram to be entertained, there’s stiff competition and there’s more to do,” Mosseri said. “We have to embrace that, and that means change.”




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