Sahail Ashraf posted on 29 September 2020
Facebook has created it’s own TikTok in India, where TikTok is banned. Why has it done this? And does it mean anything for India?
It has been a busy few weeks for TikTok. The darling of the hip and the young all around the world, it has suddenly become an incredibly controversial channel. It’s even been threatened with being banned by Donald Trump. So a lot is going on. With all of this, TikTok has weakened somewhat in the eyes of users and industry specialists. It would seem the perfect time to steal a little bit of the platform’s thunder and deliver a product that is kind of similar to TikTok but actually isn’t TikTok.
Facebook is the master of finding what works and simply imitating it. In recent times, it has ever found itself in a bit of hot water over this kind of behaviour. But it continues to try and dominate social with processes and updates that are very similar to that of competitors. It’s latest trick involves TikTok.
TikTok is banned in India. This situation doesn’t seem like it is going to change any time soon. Facebook knows this and it has acted very quickly. It has introduced a feature in it’s feeds in India that looks very much like the stuff that TikTok offers.
It calls it ‘short video’, and Facebook has also made sure that it has that same vertical format that TikTok users know and love. The videos that are created by users can be up to 26 seconds long. You do have the option of having videos longer than 26 seconds, but these will have to be trimmed manually. Simply put, Facebook is testing it’s version of TikTok on Indian users.
Obviously if this becomes Facebook’s TikTok, then the hope is that it isn’t called ‘short video’. We really can’t see that one being too popular. However, the important news is that Facebook is actually doing this, and it is doing it in a country that has no access toTiktok.
Facebook has commented on the whole thing through Techcrunch, saying:
“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.”
So that’s that then. Facebook is simply trying to improve the customer experience.
TikTok is banned in India and it looks like it will find it very difficult to overturn that ban. Ongoing tensions between the Indian and Chinese governments have meant that TikTok, among a few other apps, is simply not welcome in India. Facebook couldn’t have picked a better time to offer a simple and easy to use alternative.
India also happened to be the biggest user of TikTok outside of China. It’s a big deal that this has happened. With tensions far from easing, we can’t seeTikTok returning.
Facebook currently has more than 300 million users in the India region. If it offers a TikTok alternative to those 300 million while TikTok is away, it could produce a very strong case for remaining the app of choice.
This is fascinating stuff. We cannot see TikTok coming back, and even if it does return to India, it will now have the mighty Facebook to contend with as regards the TikTok experience. On top of that, YouTube has also been flirting with the experience delivery, offering ‘Shorts’ in the same vein.
The antitrust problems Facebook has had recently seem to be pointing in the same direction. TikTok was truly independent. And when TikTok had to leave India, Facebook had simply moved into the position it had vacated. We don’t see Facebook as an evil thing, but we do know that it is becoming harder for independent app makers in the social sphere to make a dent.
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