The Chinese video application TikTok has raised concerns about its data security, and large markets are closing out of the application. The Indian government banned the download of TikTok as well as several other Chinese apps. The United States is also considering banning the app. Prohibitions can also be influenced by trade policy, as India and the United States have been in various disputes with China.

In addition, the new Reels feature of Instagram, owned by Facebook in the US, is challenging TikTok. Reels closely resembles the operating principle of Chinese TikTok, where the user can shoot and edit 15-second video clips. The new Reels feature will also be available in more than 50 other countries, according to several U.S. media outlets.

Users can capture, edit, and share 15-second Reels videos in the Instagram app. You can add effects and background music to your videos, as in TikTok, which emphasizes light dance and sketch videos.

The new feature combines the features of two popular applications on the same platform. The video service TikTok, especially popular with children and young people, is one of the most popular applications in the world, and since October 2019, it has been the most downloaded application in the United States. Globally, the application has been downloaded more than 2 billion times.

According to Hanna Reinikainen, a doctoral student at the University of Jyväskylä, who studied social media influencers, short video services are growing in popularity, as the content is fast-paced and does not require much familiarity.

- At TikTok, the hook is that users can quickly consume content like a snack, says Reinikainen.

Security suspects ban Chinese applications

The release of Reels comes at an opportune time, as the Indian government banned Tiktok, owned by Chinese ByteDance, from its citizens in early July. Other Chinese social media services are also restricted in the country. India is a major market for social media applications, so TikTok will lose a large number of users due to the ban. Instagram Reels were introduced in India only days after the government’s ban.

President Donald Trump has also announced that he is considering banning Chinese video service in the United States. TikTok has sparked a lot of debate about user information security.

Instagram's new function has already been tested in Brazil at the end of last year. This summer, the French and Germans also got to test the Reels.

Facebook is catching on to trendy activities

Facebook-owned Instagram has previously mimicked the popular features of social media services. The Snapchat messaging service rose to popularity among young people, especially with its Story feature, where users shared pictures and videos for their followers to see. The stories disappear after a day. Instagram updated a similar feature to its app in 2016, and it quickly rose in popularity among users.

However, the original apps have retained their user base, although the popularity has waned.

- If you look at Snapchat, Instagram's Story feature hasn't completely destroyed it. The application still has its own user base, says Reinikainen.

The previous Lasso app for competing TikTok, published by Facebook, announced that it will close in early July. Launched in 2018, Lasso was available for download in South American countries as well as the United States.

Users adapt quickly to changes

Banning Chinese applications limits the user base, but users ’own choices between applications are difficult to predict. Hanna Reinikainen believes that Instagram's Reels feature can get older age groups excited about TikTok's typical content production, as the app is currently increasingly perceived as a platform for younger people.

- It's hard to say whether TikTok users will switch to Instagram or more so that active Instagram users will enable the Reels feature and not go to TikTok at all.

Users adapt quickly to new features. Reinikainen believes that commercial collaborations, which have become more common on social media, will also be transferred to Reels videos. With the help of communities, or paid advertisements, social media can become a source of income.

- In the same way, it was sometimes thought about how collaborations work in Instagram Stories, but even there they have found. Yes, I believe that if the Reels function is adopted, then those commercial collaborations will also find their way there.

Finland's most popular is Whatsapp

According to Statistics Finland's 2019 data, about half of Finns follow some form of community service on a daily or almost daily basis. There are still large differences in the use of the Internet by age group, as almost all people under the age of 55 use the Internet, but this is not a matter of course for people of retirement age.

According to a survey commissioned by DNA last year, Whatsapp was used by about 2.8 million Finns. The video service on Youtube had the same number of users. Whatsapp and Youtube narrowly overtook Facebook in terms of user numbers, with the widest age distribution of users. Originally intended as a discussion channel for college students, Jodel said it uses almost a quarter of 15-24 year olds. The number of users of TikTok, which has quickly become popular with young people, does not yet appear in the statistics.

The number of users of social media services can fluctuate rapidly, and young users in particular can rise to the rapid popularity of the app.

Statistics Finland's 2017 leisure time survey also said that the most used social media among Finns is Whatsapp and one in three uses Instagram. The average Finn did use two or three social media services. Four services were reported to be used by 15–24-year-olds and senior staff. The leisure time survey is conducted approximately every ten years.