Facebook’s Instagram is officially launching its answer to the hit short video app TikTok — Instagram Reels.
The new Instagram feature will let users record and edit 15-second videos with audio, and will let users add visual effects. Users will be able to share Reels with followers in Instagram in a dedicated section called Reels in Explore, or in the Story feature where posts disappear after 24 hours.
The Reels option will be available in the Instagram app. The company has been testing Reels in Brazil since November and in France, Germany and India since earlier this summer.
Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services. The Instagram “Story” feature, which lets people share photos and videos that expire in 24 hours, is similar to Snapchat. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced tough questioning about the company’s habit of copying rivals before a congressional hearing on July 29.
Facebook earlier launched a TikTok knockoff called Lasso in 2018, but closed that down in July. It also tried services similar to Snapchat called Slingshot and Poke before Instagram Stories caught on. But those were separate apps — it might have more success with a feature built into Instagram.
In fact, copying Snapchat’s features was successful for Instagram in part because Snapchat was difficult to figure out for new users. They were already comfortable with Instagram. But TikTok is very easy to use — easier than Instagram — and part of its appeal is that you’re able to sit back and scroll endlessly with just swipes, without the need to follow anyone or post anything.
Even with the success of Stories, Snapchat remains popular with younger people, though the Instagram feature has likely limited its growth. Snapchat has more daily users than Twitter.
For Reels to succeed, Facebook will have to lure video creators away from TikTok. This might be easier to do with Reels since many creators are already on Instagram. In response to published reports that Instagram is paying TikTok influencers to join Reels, Instagram said in a statement that the company “have a long history of reaching out to emerging creators and working to break new stars on Instagram.”
“As with previous products, we remain committed to investing in both our creators and their overall experience, and in certain cases, we may help cover production costs for their creative ideas,” the company said.
TikTok, in turn, launched a $200 million “creator fund” in July that it says will grow to over $1 billion in the U.S. in the next three years and more than double that globally, to pay video creators for their material.
TikTok, however, is under fire, possibly opening an opportunity for Facebook.
Microsoft is in talks to buy part of TikTok in what would be a forced sale, following threats from President Donald Trump to ban the Chinese-owned video app, which claims 100 million U.S. users and hundreds of millions globally.
Experts think Facebook has an opportunity to lure in young users with Reels, but its success is not guaranteed.
“Social media users, especially younger users, tend to use social platforms for different things,” said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. This means Snapchat to message friends privately, Facebook to keep up with school groups or check up on parents and grandparents, Instagram to follow their passions and TikTok for entertainment.
“Instagram has put a lot of effort into developing Reels and making it attractive to TikTok users and the creators who work on the app, but I’m not sure it can replace TikTok,” Williamson added. “Even if TikTok were to be banned in the U.S. (which I think is unlikely to happen), users would find a way to keep using it. They are incredibly loyal and protective of TikTok.”
Since early July, some TikTok users have been posting videos urging viewers to follow them to other platforms like Instagram, reflecting the threat of a TikTok ban. Mary Keane-Dawson, Group CEO at the influencer marketing agency Takumi, said the creators she works with have been sad, angry and upset about the threat of a ban. Still, they’re “pragmatic,” she said, and the smart ones were already active on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.
Reels is debuting in over 50 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Australia and others, as well as officially launching in the test countries — Brazil, France, Germany and India.
Instagram has more than a billion users worldwide.
Averting a COVID-19 vaccination crisis will take careful communication – The Verge
President Donald Trump’s relentless talk about interference with the COVID-19 vaccine approval process is setting the stage for a vaccination crisis. Even before a vaccine has been approved, public health experts are watching as confidence in a hypothetical vaccine plummets — and they’re already trying to figure out how to win back the public’s trust.
In May, 72 percent of people said that they would get vaccinated, according to a Pew Research Center survey. By September, only half of people said that they would. That drop ispartly driven by the swirling drama around the still-unproven vaccines. Data and study protocols that normally wouldn’t draw much attention are subject to intense scrutiny.
Now, many people who are normally comfortable with vaccines say that they’re worried. They think the process is being driven by politics, not science. They’re concerned that the Trump administration is pressuring federal agencies to authorize a vaccine before there’s enough testing to show that it’s safe or that it works.
It’s still early days, and vaccine development is still in progress. It seems to be unfolding appropriately — at least so far — and it’s still too soon to say what might happen after initial data from the trials is released by pharmaceutical companies. But the drop-off in confidence before a vaccine is available still concerns public health experts. A vaccine won’t be able to help protect people if they don’t take it. If too many people refuse, the population won’t be able to build herd immunity.
Fortunately, there will likely be a long lag between vaccine authorization and the time when most people will actually have the option to get a vaccine. That gives experts room to analyze the data and, if it’s warranted, alleviate some of those fears, says Melanie Kornides, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing who studies vaccine hesitancy. They’ll probably handle it similar to how they handle parents who are scared of the measles vaccine. “We need to address people’s concerns, and talk about the benefits of vaccination,” she told The Verge.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
How warranted are those fears around a politically motivated push to bring a vaccine out too quickly?
I think that we need to remember that a vaccine hasn’t come out yet, and that’s because they haven’t finished safety and efficacy testing. If people are concerned that it’s maybe being pushed through too fast, that hasn’t played out yet because we don’t have a vaccine. I think that we can be confident in communicating that scientists and pharmaceutical companies are taking the right approach of balancing safety and efficacy testing with wanting to end a very dangerous and deadly pandemic as quickly as possible.
Is there a difference between hesitancy around a COVID-19 vaccine and the hesitancy around childhood vaccinations, like the measles vaccine?
I think that there are actually a lot of similarities between the hesitancy that we’re seeing around the COVID-19 vaccine and the normal vaccine hesitancy that we see around childhood vaccinations. As I’m looking at things that people are saying on social media about the COVID-19 vaccine, we see a lot of the same things that people tend to express about childhood vaccination. Those include worries that it’s not effective or worries about unknown, long-term side effects. There are worries that it’s pushed through for commercial profit or to make the government look better. And to some extent, we see with childhood vaccinations this belief that natural immunity might be safer and better, and we’re seeing a little bit of that too with the COVID vaccine.
But the big difference is that this is much more widespread. Many people are saying that they normally get vaccinated and they normally accept vaccines, but they have particular concerns about this vaccine.
Have we seen similar things before, when people who are usually comfortable with vaccines balk at one?
My research before this was really focused on hesitancy around the HPV vaccine. It’s really similar because, like the COVID vaccine, a lot of parents that choose not to vaccinate their children for HPV are not anti-vaxxers. They just say they have these worries that maybe the HPV vaccine wasn’t thoroughly tested, or they’ve seen something on Instagram or Twitter saying that there have been negative side effects that are being taken seriously. You get these parents who are hesitant but, in general, are not anti-vaxxers.
Will the same strategies we use to overcome those worries with HPV vaccines work for a hypothetical COVID-19 vaccine? Are they different from the way you’d talk to someone who is stridently anti-vaccine?
In general, it’s just much harder to convince somebody who has really strong beliefs that vaccinations are dangerous to move over to the pro-vaccine camp. What we do with parents and children is we try to appeal the idea that everybody cares about their child and wants what’s best for their child. It’s about explaining or making them understand that, even though we don’t see these childhood illnesses anymore, they’re very dangerous, and they’re very deadly.
There’s lots of studies showing that the important thing is the trust in the person who’s giving the information to you. I think with COVID-19, what’s going to be important is making sure that health care providers have been really well-trained in communicating the safety and efficacy and importance of the vaccine. That is what goes a long way.
If most of the people who say they won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine are normally okay with vaccines, does that make it easier to help them understand why they should actually take it?
Absolutely. A lot of it is going to depend on how well the safety and efficacy of the vaccine is communicated through the media, through the pharmaceutical companies, and then also through health care providers. But assuming that we do a good job of that, I think that it will move the needle, and a lot of people that are saying they won’t get vaccinated will move over.
If the worst-case scenario does happen — a vaccine actually does get authorized without scientists feeling confident in the data, and there are negative side effects — what might happen?
I think that would definitely be damaging. We have had instances where vaccines have been pulled from the market because they weren’t as safe as the initial safety data suggested. When that happens, it’s usually that the number of negative outcomes is small, but on a population-level, you want to prevent that.
Ideally, hopefully, they’ll have several vaccines around the same time — so if one has to be pulled, the others will continue to be safe and effective.
Feds pledge $440 million to join international vaccine program – CTV News
Canada will spend $440 million to join an international program which is trying ensure COVID-19 vaccines aren’t just hoarded by rich countries, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.
But Canada is spending more than twice that to gain private access to millions of doses of some of the most promising vaccines in development. That includes a sixth deal announced Friday with AstraZeneca for up to 20 million doses of its vaccine candidate, which is in the third and final phase of clinical trials.
The federal government has committed more than $1 billion to buying vaccines for Canada, much of which is not refundable even if the vaccines are never approved.
Trudeau also unveiled Canada’s financial commitment for the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, known as COVAX.
Canada is among 64 high-income countries that have committed to joining COVAX.
Canada is joining both parts of the initiative: one which secures access to millions of doses of vaccines for Canada, and the other which has wealthier nations pooling their funds to help lower and middle-income countries secure doses as well.
The $440 million is split equally between the two parts, with half securing 15 million doses of vaccines for Canada from COVAX, and the other half going to help poorer countries get doses as well.
“Canadians must have access to a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 no matter where it is developed,” Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa.
But he said to eliminate the virus in Canada, it also needs to be eliminated around the world.
The Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research and the Canadian Society for International Health have both criticized Canada for acting to buy doses of vaccine for itself, saying it hinders efforts to ensure successful vaccines are distributed fairly around the world.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2020.
S&P 500, Dow set to extend longest losing spree in a year – Reuters
(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Friday, led by technology-related stocks, but were still set for their longest weekly losing streak in a year as fears about the coronavirus’ impact on the economy weighed on investor sentiment.
Shares of tech mega-caps including Facebook Inc FB.O, Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O, Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O, Apple Inc AAPL.O and Netflix Inc NFLX.O, which are perceived as relatively safe assets at a time of economic uncertainty, climbed between 0.4% and 1.9%.
“We’ve been down for a number of days and the market is such that it’s looking for opportunities to buy,” said Barry James, portfolio manager at James Investment Research in Ohio.
All the three major U.S. stock indexes are on course for their fourth straight week of declines – their longest weekly losing streak since August 2019.
Volatility .VIX has also shot up as investors look for clarity on more Congressional stimulus ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
At 11:40 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 97.00 points, or 0.36%, at 26,912.44, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 19.02 points, or 0.59%, at 3,265.61, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 116.18 points, or 1.09%, at 10,788.44.
The S&P industrials sector .SPLRCI added 0.8% as data showed new orders for key U.S.-made capital goods jumped in August, while a 0.7% slide in energy stocks .SPNY put them on course for one of their worst weeks since the coronavirus-driven crash in March.
Costco Wholesale Corp COST.O fell 2.6% as the warehouse chain recorded high coronavirus-related costs for the second straight quarter.
Boeing Co BA.N gained 3.6% after Europe’s chief aviation safety regulator said the planemaker’s grounded 737 MAX could receive regulatory approval to resume flying in November and enter service by the end of the year.
Novavax Inc NVAX.O jumped 11.3% after the drugmaker launched a late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in the UK.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1.29-to-1 on the NYSE and 2.09-to-1 on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded one new 52-week high and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 14 new highs and 30 new lows.
Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Anil D’Silva
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