Reddit weighs new video feature with ‘reactions’ for use in its online discussions

Reddit is exploring the idea of bringing more user-generated video content to its online discussion forums, the company has confirmed.

Not much has yet been determined about this potential new video feature — which hasn’t been launched into testing, we should note. But we understand it may involve the use of TikTok-like video editing tools including, most notably, the ability for people to “react” to videos posted by others by adding their own video to another’s.

The ability to combine videos from different people grew popular on TikTok through features known as Stitches and Duets, which have has since been adopted by TikTok rivals including Instagram’s Reels and Snapchat’s Spotlight, to varying degrees.

In Reddit’s case, however, the goal is not necessarily to build out its own TikTok competitor aimed at creators as other large social giants have done, but rather create a video tool that would continue Reddit’s mission of enabling its users to engage in discussions on topics they care about. Today, many of these discussions on Reddit’s site are written in text, but video reactions could add a new layer to these online conversations. (To be clear, video is already supported on Reddit’s platform, but video reactions — similar to “Stitches” — are not.)

The company will be reaching out to various communities, known as subreddits, to determine whether they would be interested in exploring video in such a way. Specifically, it will be looking to particular communities where it thinks the video feature could be a good product fit. But those community tests have yet to begin.

“In line with our work to help people engage in the topics that matter to them through social audio, video, text, memes, and more, we’re in the process of reaching out to a few Reddit communities to see if a new video feature we’re working on is something they find useful and fun,” a Reddit spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch. “After getting feedback from Redditors, we’ll explore an initial test for this new capability,” they noted.

The potential “reactions” feature in the new video project was first uncovered by iOS developer Steve Moser. Other video editing tools could also be a part of the tests, including those for adding effects, filters, and stickers to videos backed by music, among other things. Some of this functionality was added to the Reddit camera app last November as part of Reddit’s ongoing video efforts.

In December 2020, Reddit signaled its interest in expanding further into video after it acquired TikTok competitor Dubsmash. The company shut down the app this year after first working to integrate the startup’s video creation tools into Reddit. As part of that integration, Reddit announced it would introduce new camera features, including the ability to set a timer and change recording speeds, use effects, add voiceovers, trim and adjust multiple clips, and more. Reddit users today can access these video features by way of the “new post” tool, then selecting the video option and choosing “camera” to record a video.

In addition, Reddit last summer tested a TikTok-like video feed on its iOS app which, when tapped, would show a stream of short videos in a vertical feed. Users could upvote, downvote, comment, gift an award, or share the video from this feed, then swipe up to see more.

Neither of those projects is directly related to the forthcoming video test, which is focused on exploring a new use case for video on the platform. But the underlying video technology acquired from Dubsmash would be involved.

As this product is still in extremely early stages — not even alpha testing yet — a lot could still change. There’s also the possibility that Reddit’s communities show no interest in testing such a video product and the idea is scrapped.

The video feature appears to be inspired by TikTok, which already allows creators to engage in discussions using video comments. And this functionality has been subsequently cloned by other social apps including Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. But perhaps video discussions on Reddit more closely align with an idea proposed by an early 2000s startup called Seesmic (clearly ahead of its time), which once theorized that people would respond to posts, blogs, and other text-based content by leaving video comments. What’s old is new again, it seems.