Meta is testing out a version of Instagram where all video content is posted as a Reel, the company confirmed to Gizmodo on Thursday in an email.
“This is something we’re testing (and have been!) with parts of our global community,” wrote a spokesperson for Meta, Instagram’s parent company. Who characterised the change “as part of our efforts to simplify and improve the video experience on Instagram.”
For most current Instagram users, posting a video prompts the app to ask if you want to share your content as a “post” or a Reel. Posts show up in the main feed that’s populated with content from those a user is following (plus ads). Reels, on the other hand, are sent to a separate feed that functions much more like Tiktok. Anyone’s videos could show up at any time in a user’s algorithmically generated Reels feeds, and the audio of one Reel can soundtrack another. Since the inception of Reels, there’s been the two options.
However, both choices might soon become one. If you’re part of the test group, attempting to make a video post on Instagram will lead to a notification that says “video posts are now shared as reels,” according to a screenshot shared on Twitter by social media consultant Matt Navarra. In practice, this means that Instagram is considering eliminating the option to share a video just with your followers. Instead, everything posted on the app that’s not a still image could end up in the endless, lawless sea of Reels.
The change is one of a number that Meta seems to be testing out on its platforms at the moment. Two weeks ago, Instagram announced other interface updates were being piloted with select users, including one that would make posts appear full-screen in the main feed. Which, yes, again looks a lot like Tiktok. Meta also seems to be taking Facebook down the Tiktok path, by filling user feeds with content posted from outside their “friends” group, and by pushing Reels more too.
And Gizmodo is left asking: Why? Who wants this? Wouldn’t it be nice to maintain some differentiation between all these social media platforms? Instagram is becoming Tiktok, Tiktok is trying to be Instagram, Snapchat is mimicking Twitter, and — under the theoretical tutelage of Elon Musk — Twitter could replicate TikTok too. What’s the point? It’s almost enough to compel one to delete these apps altogether. But just one more video first.