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Instagram Launches TikTok Competitor, Starry Internet Pledge, Trump Claims Microsoft Will Pay U.S. For TikTok Purchase

Elijah Labby

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Illustration of TikTok by Max Pixel used with permission

Facebook has launched a competitor to Chinese social media app TikTok called Instagram Reels, Axios reported.

Embedded within Instagram, the service will allow users to create fifteen second videos with a variety of editing tools inside the app, accompanied by a library of music licensed by Instagram. However, unlike TikTok, Reels will allow users to utilize Instagram’s augmented reality effects.

However, there are already several competitors to TikTok, including Triller and Byte. Snapchat, one of Instagram’s biggest rivals, is reportedly testing their own version.

Facebook’s move comes as Microsoft is reportedly in talks to purchase Tiktok, after several weeks of the app standing on precarious ground in the United States. President Donald Trump has threatened to ban the app outright, while other government officials have characterized it as an instrument of the Chinese government to collect private American data.

But Instagram executives insist that they did not speed up the rollout of Reels to meet the moment.

"This has always been part of our plan," said Vishal Shah, Instagram’s vice president of product. "We've been working on this for over a year."

Starry Internet keeps users connected past “Disconnection Day”

Starry Internet, a Boston-based hybrid wireless internet service provider, announced Monday that it would keep its users connected past the end of the Federal Communication Commission’s Keep Americans Connected pledge.

The Fresh Start debt forgiveness program will cancel debt owed to Starry Internet by individuals who cannot pay and will offer zero-dollar balances at the beginning of August.

“Reliable, affordable broadband access has never been more important than during the COVID-19 health crisis,” said Virginia Lam Abrams, senior vice president of government affairs and strategic advancement at Starry. “Starry is proud to do our part to support our communities during this challenging time and while our pledge period has ended, our commitment to always being customer-first continues.”

Trump threatens to take chunk of TikTok sale price

President Trump said on Wednesday that Microsoft and other companies interested in purchasing social media app TikTok have agreed to pay the United States Treasury a portion of the sale price, Fox Business reported.

“But if you buy [TikTok], the United States, which is making it possible to buy, because without us they can’t do anything, should be compensated,” Trump said. “Properly compensated with a very big payment. So that money would go into the Treasury of the United States. And by the way, Microsoft, which is looking at it, and others, they all agreed to that.”

However, coverage from Axios characterized it as doubtful that such a merger would contain a payment to the U.S. Treasury.

Trump has cited security concerns for his reluctance to support the merger and has placed a September 15 deadline on it.

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