The year is 2020. We’re in a global pandemic. Donald Trump is president. Gen Z loves TikTok (and I’m close enough to 30 to tell you, from the bottom of my heart, that I just don’t get it!). Another note – Kanye West announced his presidential run, and honestly, we’re still not sure if he’s actually on the ballot or what’s going on there. Anyways, these are just a few 2020 facts to get your mind in the right place to discuss the potential for a Chinese-owned app to steal US citizens’ information. With that being said, we’ve all heard that TikTok will be banned, and the aforementioned reason is why. What does this ban really mean, though? I’m here to break it down for you. Rather, I’m here to let you know what I can discern from the hundreds of tweets and articles that I’ve read on the subject.
So, we all know that President Trump wants to ban TikTok as he believes it is a threat to the United States citizens’ privacy. While TikTok has publicly stated that they are not sharing data with the Chinese government, one has to wonder the reason for the executive order to ban it. As of now, this ban will take place the week of September 20th, 2020. What hasn’t been talked about too much is the fact that if you have already downloaded the app, it will not be deleted from your phone. Once it’s removed from the App Store, no new users will be able to download it and updates will cease to exist. This means that if you already have the app downloaded, you can use it until it’s too far gone, as far as updates are concerned, and it inevitably becomes useless.
Never to fear, Instagram (and Facebook) are here to tweak the well-known app and make it their own with Reels. Reels has been called “Facebook’s answer to TikTok.” Reels will allow users to create and share their 15-second videos within the Instagram app. There is even a Featured Reels section that you’ll see on your explore page. Now, it may seem like Facebook is trying to steal this idea, as many say happened with Instagram Stories (taken from and now more popular than Snapchat). While this may be the perception of some, it’s important to note that Facebook has been working on Reels for over a year, with tests rolled out in other countries starting in November of 2019 – almost a year ago.
Reels will eventually have its own icon at the bottom of your screen – think of where you can search for your favorite people or brands, post a photo, and check your notifications. As of now, it’s still within the Story feature, and will likely remain there until its entire rollout in the US and with the necessary updates.
Let’s bring it back to the craziness that is 2020 and of course, my man, Kanye. Yes, this is the reason that I brought up his presidential bid earlier. You may have seen Kanye West call for a Christian TikTok or “Jesus Tok” as he has so coined it. Kanye mentions that while watching a few TikToks with his daughter, he noticed how impressive and innovative the technology was, but that he was “disturbed” by the content. Could Reels be Kanye’s savior? It’s possible since Instagram has stricter policies on what is and what is not allowed on your feed, but it may not fully be the “Christian monitored version that feels safe for young children and the world” like Yeezy is looking for.
More than 30 million people actively use TikTok, mostly in the Gen Z demographic, but some older, as well. Since Instagram skews younger, I’m excited to see how this will all play out. Will loyal TikTok users switch over to Reels and accept using the feature within another app? Or will they hold out for a US company to purchase, and save, their beloved TikTok? Only time will tell. Drop a comment and let us know what you think will happen.