Facebook is going all-in on short-form videos. After flirting with the idea in Lasso, a TikTok-clone it tested in select markets, and adding a similar feature called Reels to Instagram recently, the company is exploring a new venue for this TikTok -esque experience: The big blue app.
The company confirmed to TechCrunch that it is testing short-form videos in the Facebook app in India, its biggest market by users. In the current avatar, “Short Videos” has a dedicated section within the news feed. On top of it sits the “Create” button, tapping which prompts Facebook Camera to launch, and users can browse through videos by swiping up.
“We’re always testing new creative tools so we can learn about how people want to express themselves. Short-form videos are extremely popular and we are looking at new ways to provide this experience for people to connect, create and share on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Matt Navarra, a social media consultant, first revealed the existence of the new test.
The test comes as Facebook continues to cash in on the absence of TikTok, the ByteDance -owned app that was banned by India in late June. Facebook launched Reels in India last month, weeks before launching it to dozens of additional markets. A source familiar with the matter said the daily engagement of Facebook’s services in India has increased by more than 25% since the ban on TikTok.
Scores of local startups, including Twitter-backed ShareChat and Times Internet’s Gaana and MX Player streaming services, have launched standalone apps or integrated features to replicate the social experience TikTok provided to users in recent weeks. The local apps have claimed to have added tens of million of new users during the period.
YouTube has also rolled out a similar feature, still in testing phase, to more users in India in recent weeks.
The urgency in Facebook’s attempt to court users with short-form videos comes as TikTok is plotting ways to re-enter the market. ByteDance is engaging with Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries to sell stake in TikTok’s local business, TechCrunch reported earlier this week.