Game. Set. Match?
On September 18, social media platform TikTok was banned from United States markets over concerns Chinese hackers were allegedly using the app to gather personal information. But is this the end of these short burst viral videos altogether?
The ban, which came into effect September 27th, has banned all use of the app including future downloads. But while talks and negotiations with potential U.S. buyers remain in play, Instagram launched a plan of their own: Reels. Released August 5, you can share short bursts of Halsey or whichever music you like and dance your whole life savings away. It was rolled out in Brazil last November before debuting in Europe not long after. With the future of TikTok very much in the air, it may not be long before Reels becomes the next best thing for those looking to go viral.
Before we even get into this debate, let us take a moment of silence for Vine, which paved the way for an entire generation of viral YouTubers before it’s tragic passing in 2018.
Let’s be completely honest: TikTok has taken on a social life of its own and is now embedded into global culture. Since Bytedance debuted Musical.ly’s reincarnation in 2018, there have been over 850 million subscribers and some of the most popular users have become prominent influencers. JoJo Siwa, who started from humble beginnings as a featured dancer in TLC’s “Dance Moms,” has amassed over 9 million followers at the tender age of 17. Another female TikTok influencer, Savannah LaBrant, also vlogs with her family under The LaBrant Fam, which stands at over 12.6 million subscribers. Musical careers have also been launched like Doja Cat, which skyrocketed with a dance challenge to “Say So” (Fun fact: the original challenger made a cameo in the actual music video, which is pretty awesome). To keep a long story short, there are a lot of people that are concerned about the future of where the app will go as a business and, while some companies like Microsoft and Oracle have been asked to stake in a claim, only time will tell.
Until then, Instagram is lining itself up to take over. But does it hold up for the next generation of viral videos? Breaking down essential features, Reels is very similar to TikTok with one major difference: only 15 seconds of video versus a full minute. It should also be noted that a total shift from one app to the other isn’t going to be as easy. An article in Time told readers, while some influencers will experiment with the app, will still maintain a presence on TikTok. The more the merrier, right? Critic and user reviews have also been mixed. One opinion piece in the New York Times called said “to me, it’s really unclear whom [Reels] is for,” commenting on its confusing and, at time, frustrating nature. Another article in The Verge said it was very easy to miss in the app altogether.
“Unlike Reels, which Instagram makes people seek out to enjoy, TikTok just surfaces content.”
Needless to say, TikTok is still very popular. But what will come out of the ban, who can say? Until then, we will have to wait on the powers that be to decide the next viral dance’s fate.