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Instagram’s 10th birthday release introduces a Stories Map, custom icons and more

Instagram today is celebrating its 10th birthday with the launch of several new features, including a private “Stories Map,” offering a retrospective of the Stories you’ve shared over the last three years, a pair of well-being updates, and the previously announced IGTV Shopping update. There’s even a selection of custom app icons for those who have recently been inspired to redesign their home screen, as is the new trend.

The icons had been spotted earlier in development within Instagram’s code, and it was expected they would be a part of a larger “birthday release.” That turned out to be true.

With the update, Instagram users across both iOS and Android can opt between a range of icons in shades of orange, yellow, green, purple, black, white and more. There’s also a rainbow-colored Pride icon and several versions of classic icons, if you want a more nostalgic feel.

The new Stories Map feature, meanwhile, introduces a private map and calendar of the Instagram Stories you’ve shared over the past three years, so you can look back at favorite moments. Though this may surprise some users who thought Instagram Stories’ ephemeral nature meant they were deleted from Facebook servers over time, it’s not the first time Instagram has pulled up your old Stories to build out a new feature.

Instagram’s “Story Highlights,” for example, first introduced in 2017, allowed users to create a permanent home for some of their formerly ephemeral content.

Image Credits: Instagram

Two other new features also rolling out with the latest release are timed alongside the kickoff of National Bullying Prevention Month. The first, which will begin as a test, will automatically hide comments similar to others that have already been reported. These will still be visible under the label “View Hidden Comments” if you want to see what’s been removed from the main comment feed.

Image Credits: Instagram

This feature is somewhat similar to Twitter’s “Hide Replies” feature that launched globally last year. Like Twitter, the feature will place the inappropriate or abusive remarks behind an extra click, which supposedly helps to disincentivize this sort of content, as it could be hidden from view. Except in Twitter’s case, the original poster had to manually hide the replies. The Instagram feature, however, is attempting to automate this functionality.

Instagram says it’s also expanding its nudge warnings feature to include an additional warning when people repeatedly try to post offensive remarks. Already, Instagram provides an AI-powered feature that notifies people when their comment may be considered offensive by giving them a chance to reflect and make changes before posting. Now this feature will target repeat offenders, suggesting that they take a moment to step back and reflect on their words and the potential consequences.

Image Credits: Instagram

The company also released new data about trends across its platform as well as an editorial look back at Instagram’s major milestones.

Here, it revealed trends across music — like how KPOP is the No. 1 most-discussed genre — along with other trends, like top songs, AR effects, top Story Fonts and more. Instagram said more than a million posts mentioning “meme” are shared on its platform daily, 50% of users see a video on Instagram daily, there are over 900 million emoji reactions sent daily and the average person sends 3x more DMs than comments.

The updated app is available across iOS and Android.

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Daily Crunch: Venmo launches a credit card

Venmo’s first credit card is here, a former Amazon employee is arrested for fraud and we review the Nest Audio smart speaker. This is your Daily Crunch for October 5, 2020.

The big story: Venmo launches a credit card

PayPal -owned mobile payment app Venmo already offers a Mastercard-branded debit card, and it announced a year ago that it was planning to launch its first credit card as well. Today, it made good on that promise.

The Venmo Credit Card is a Visa card that offers personalized rewards and 3% cash back on eligible purchases. The cards come in five colors and include the user’s own Venmo QR code on the front.

Naturally, it also integrates with Venmo, allowing customers to track their spending and make payments from the mobile app. The card is currently available to select Venmo users, with plans to launch for the rest of the U.S. in the coming months.

The tech giants

Feds arrest former Amazon employee after company reported him to FBI for fraud — The company says it reported Vu Anh Nguyen to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in July 2020 over allegations of falsely issuing refunds for products ordered on Amazon .com to himself and his associates.

Nest Audio review — Brian Heater says it’s a welcome update to the Google Home.

Instagram expands shopping on IGTV, plans test of shopping on Reels — The product lets you watch a video, then purchase the featured product with a few taps.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Ola fails to get ride-hailing license renewed in London, says it will appeal and continues to operate — The India-based ride-hailing startup is not getting its Transport for London ride-hailing license renewed after failing to meet public safety requirements around licensing for drivers and vehicles.

Cooler Screens raises $80M to bring interactive screens into cooler aisles — Cooler Screens is led by co-founder and CEO Arsen Avakian, who previously was founder and CEO of Argo Tea.

GrubMarket raises $60M as food delivery stays center stage — The startup provides a platform for consumers to order produce and other food and home items for delivery, as well as a service supplying grocery stores, meal-kit companies and other food tech startups with products for resale.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Accel VCs Sonali De Rycker and Andrew Braccia say European deal pace is ‘incredibly active’ — De Rycker’s comments point to a future where there is no single center of startup gravity.

Two Kindred Capital partners discuss the firm’s focus and equitable venture model — The London-based VC, which backs early-stage founders in Europe and Israel, recently closed its second seed fund at £81 million.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Camera that will film a spacewalk in VR delivered to the International Space Station — The camera will be used to film a spacewalk in immersive, cinematic VR for the first time ever on an upcoming ISS astronaut mission.

Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Away’ deftly balances space exploration and human drama — I worried that the show might be a bit too weepy and melodramatic, but I was wrong.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Instagram CEO, ACLU slam TikTok and WeChat app bans for putting US freedoms into the balance

As people begin to process the announcement from the U.S. Department of Commerce detailing how it plans, on grounds of national security, to shut down TikTok and WeChat — starting with app downloads and updates for both, plus all of WeChat’s services, on September 20, with TikTok following with a shut down of servers and services on November 12 — the CEO of Instagram and the ACLU are among those that are speaking out against the move.

The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, wasted little time in taking to Twitter to criticize the announcement. His particular beef is the implication the move will have for US companies — like his — that also have built their businesses around operating across national boundaries.

In essence, if the U.S. starts to ban international companies from operating in the U.S., then it opens the door for other countries to take the same approach with U.S. companies.

Meanwhile, the ACLU has been outspoken in criticizing the announcement on the grounds of free speech.

“This order violates the First Amendment rights of people in the United States by restricting their ability to communicate and conduct important transactions on the two social media platforms,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, in a statement today.

Shamsi added that ironically, while the U.S. government might be crying foul over national security, blocking app updates poses a security threat in itself.

“The order also harms the privacy and security of millions of existing TikTok and WeChat users in the United States by blocking software updates, which can fix vulnerabilities and make the apps more secure. In implementing President Trump’s abuse of emergency powers, Secretary Ross is undermining our rights and our security. To truly address privacy concerns raised by social media platforms, Congress should enact comprehensive surveillance reform and strong consumer data privacy legislation.”

Vanessa Pappas, who is the acting CEO of TikTok, also stepped in to endorse Mosseri’s words and publicly asked Facebook to join TikTok’s litigation against the U.S. over its moves.

We agree that this type of ban would be bad for the industry. We invite Facebook and Instagram to publicly join our challenge and support our litigation,” she said in her own tweet responding to Mosseri, while also retweeting the ACLU. (Interesting how Twitter becomes Switzlerland in these stories, huh?) “This is a moment to put aside our competition and focus on core principles like freedom of expression and due process of law.”

The move to shutter these apps has been wrapped in an increasingly complex set of issues, and these two dissenting voices highlight not just some of the conflict between those issues, but the potential consequences and detriment of acting based on one issue over another.

The Trump administration has stated that the main reason it has pinpointed the apps has been to “safeguard the national security of the United States” in the face of nefarious activity out of China, where the owners of WeChat and TikTok, respectively Tencent and ByteDance, are based:

“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S.,” today statement from the U.S. Department of Commerce noted. “Today’s announced prohibitions, when combined, protect users in the U.S. by eliminating access to these applications and significantly reducing their functionality.”

In reality, it’s hard to know where the truth actually lies.

In the case of the ACLU and Mosseri’s comments, they are highlighting issues of principles but not necessarily precedent.

It’s not as if the US would be the first country to take a nationalist approach to how it permits the operation of apps. Facebook and its stable of apps, as of right now, are unable to operate in China without a VPN (and even with a VPN things can get tricky). And free speech is regularly ignored in a range of countries today.

But the US has always positioned itself as a standard bearer in both of these areas, and so apart from the self-interest that Instagram might have in advocating for more free market policies, it points to wider market and business position that’s being eroded.

The issue, of course, is a little like an onion (a stinking onion, I’d say), with well more than just a couple of layers around it, and with the ramifications bigger than TikTok (with 100 million users in the U.S. and huge in pop culture beyond even that) or WeChat (much smaller in the U.S. but huge elsewhere and valued by those who do use it).

The Trump administration has been carefully selecting issues to tackle to give voters reassurance of Trump’s commitment to “Make America Great Again,” building examples of how it’s helping to promote U.S. interests and demote those that stand in its way. China has been a huge part of that image building, positioned as an adversary in industrial, defence and other arenas. Pinpointing specific apps and how they might pose a security threat by sucking up our data fits neatly into that strategy.

But are they really security threats, or are they just doing the same kind of nefarious data ingesting that every social app does in order to work? Will the US banning them really mean that other countries, up to now more in favor of a free market, will fall in line and take a similar approach? Will people really stop being able to express themselves?

Those are the questions that Trump has forced into the balance with his actions, and even if they were not issues before, they have very much become so now.

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Instagram Guides may soon allow creators to recommended places, products and more

Instagram is working to expand its recently launched “Guides” feature which initially debuted with a specific focus on wellness content. The feature, which launched in May, has allowed select organizations and experts to share resources related to managing your mental health — including things like handling anxiety or grief amid the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. A handful of creators first gained access to the feature, and have since posted their wellness tips on their Instagram profiles in a separate tab, called “Guides.” Now, Instagram is developing tools that will allow creators to build out Guides for other types of tips and recommendations, too — like recommended places or even recommended products.

The larger goal with Guides is to give Instagram users a way to post longer-form content that’s not just a photo or video. Currently, Guides can include photos, galleries and videos sourced from either the creator’s own profile, which is more common, or from other creators. In addition, the Guides include commentary or tips alongside the media.

Instagram Guides today (Image Credits: Instagram)

The feature would allow creators to use Instagram as their platform for sharing tips and advice, instead of having that traffic redirected outside of Instagram — like to a blog or other website.

At launch, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the Guides feature was originally designed with the travel use case in mind, but the company pivoted Guides to focus on wellness because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now it appears Instagram will be returning to its original idea of letting creators build Guides for places — and for other things, too.

The changes to Guides were first uncovered by Twitter user and self-described leaker, Alessandro Paluzzi. He tells TechCrunch he found the new features by reverse engineering the Instagram app. But these changes haven’t yet launched to the wider Instagram user base.

Image Credits: Alessandro Paluzzi, via Twitter

The tests show the company experimenting with a new compose screen, as well. Here, users are presented with all the different ways you can publish to Instagram’s social network. This includes the option to create a new Feed Post, post a Story or Story Highlight, post to IGTV, post to Reels or create a new Guide.

If you choose “Guide” from the list, you’re then presented with a menu that asks you to choose a Guide type. This can be a Places Guide, for recommending favorite places; a Products Guide, for recommending favorite products; or a Posts Guide, which is a more general-purpose format for recommending a series of your favorite Instagram posts.

This feature would allow Guides to easily fit into Instagram influencers’ workflows, as they often make recommendations to followers about where to go, what to purchase and more. Creators could even increase their affiliate network revenue or direct more users to their sponsored posts through the use of Guides, if they chose.

Image Credits: Alessandro Paluzzi, via Twitter

Instagram confirmed the new features are part of a series of improvements to Guides it’s working on.

“This is part of an early test as we work to improve guides. We’ll have more to share soon,” a spokesperson said. The company declined to say if or when the changes would roll out more broadly, adding it’s still in the early stages and the product could change based on user feedback. Instagram also declined to speak to its long-term plans for the Guides feature.

The changes come shortly after Pinterest began edging its way into Instagram territory. The social pinboarding site recently began testing its own new feature aimed at aggregating content for longer-form storytelling. With Story Pins, Pinterest creators could build out “guides” of their own for topics like recipes, crafts, DIY projects or more. In addition, more users are turning to Facebook rival TikTok for tips, inspiration and other creator content.

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Facebook changes name of its annual VR event and its overall AR/VR organization

Facebook is moving further away from the Oculus brand.

The company says it is changing the name of their augmented reality and virtual reality division to “Facebook Reality Labs,” a division which will encompass the company’s AR/VR products under the Oculus, Spark and Portal brands.

The company’s AR/VR research division had its title changed from Oculus Research to Facebook Reality Labs back in 2018. That division will now be known as FRL Research.

Facebook has also announced that Oculus Connect, its annual virtual reality developer conference, will be renamed Facebook Connect and will be occurring entirely virtually on September 16.

Oculus has held a very different existence inside Facebook than other high-profile acquisitions like Instagram or WhatsApp . The org has been folded deeper into the core of the company, both in terms of leadership and organizational structure. The entire AR/VR org is run by Andrew Bosworth, a long-time executive at the company who is a close confidant of CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Bosworth

In some sense, the name change is just an indication that the product ambitions of Facebook in the AR/VR world have grown larger since its 2014 Oculus acquisition.

Facebook is now no longer just building headsets, they’re also building augmented reality glasses, they’re adding AR software integrations into their core app and Instagram through Spark AR and, yes, they’re still doing some stuff with Facebook Portal.

In another sense, adding the term “Labs” to the end of a division that’s several years old with several products you’ve spent billions of dollars to realize, seems to be Facebook doubling down on the idea that everything contained therein is (1) pretty experimental and (2) not contributing all that much to the Facebook bottom line. This seems like the likely home for future Facebook moonshots.

The change will likely upset some Oculus users. Facebook’s reputation problems anecdotally seem to have a particularly strong hold among PC gamers leaving some Oculus fans generally unhappy with any news that showcases the Oculus brand coming further beneath the core Facebook org. Last week, the company shared that new Oculus headset users will need to sign into the platform with their Facebook account and that they would be phasing out Oculus accounts over time, a change that was met with hostility from insiders who believed that Facebook would keep more distance between the core social app and its virtual reality platform.

At this point, Oculus is still the brand name of the VR headsets Facebook sells and the company maintains that the brand isn’t going anywhere, but directionally it seems that Facebook is aiming to bring the brand closer beneath its wing.

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Facebook tests TikTok-style video format on its main app in India

Facebook is going all-in on short-form videos. After flirting with the idea in Lasso, a TikTok-clone it tested in select markets, and adding a similar feature called Reels to Instagram recently, the company is exploring a new venue for this TikTok -esque experience: The big blue app.

The company confirmed to TechCrunch that it is testing short-form videos in the Facebook app in India, its biggest market by users. In the current avatar, “Short Videos” has a dedicated section within the news feed. On top of it sits the “Create” button, tapping which prompts Facebook Camera to launch, and users can browse through videos by swiping up.

“We’re always testing new creative tools so we can learn about how people want to express themselves. Short-form videos are extremely popular and we are looking at new ways to provide this experience for people to connect, create and share on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Matt Navarra, a social media consultant, first revealed the existence of the new test.

The test comes as Facebook continues to cash in on the absence of TikTok, the ByteDance -owned app that was banned by India in late June. Facebook launched Reels in India last month, weeks before launching it to dozens of additional markets. A source familiar with the matter said the daily engagement of Facebook’s services in India has increased by more than 25% since the ban on TikTok.

Scores of local startups, including Twitter-backed ShareChat and Times Internet’s Gaana and MX Player streaming services, have launched standalone apps or integrated features to replicate the social experience TikTok provided to users in recent weeks. The local apps have claimed to have added tens of million of new users during the period.

YouTube has also rolled out a similar feature, still in testing phase, to more users in India in recent weeks.

Image: TechCrunch

The urgency in Facebook’s attempt to court users with short-form videos comes as TikTok is plotting ways to re-enter the market. ByteDance is engaging with Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries to sell stake in TikTok’s local business, TechCrunch reported earlier this week.

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Daily Crunch: Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store

Epic Games takes on Apple, Instagram fixes a security issue and Impossible Foods raises $200 million. This is your Daily Crunch for August 13, 2020.

The big story: Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store

The controversy over Apple’s App Store policies has expanded to include Epic Games and its hit title Fortnite. The company introduced a direct payment option for its in-game currency on mobile, leading Apple to remove the app for violating App Store rules.

“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services,” Apple said.

Epic, meanwhile, said it’s taking legal action against Apple, and that the game’s removal is “yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market.”

The tech giants

Bracing for election day, Facebook rolls out voting resources to US users — The hub will centralize election resources for U.S. users and ideally inoculate at least some of them against the platform’s ongoing misinformation epidemic.

Instagram wasn’t removing photos and direct messages from its servers — A security researcher was awarded a $6,000 bug bounty payout after he found Instagram retained photos and private direct messages on its servers long after he deleted them.

Slack and Atlassian strengthen their partnership with deeper integrations — At the core of these integrations is the ability to get rich unfurls of deep links to Atlassian products in Slack.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Impossible Foods gobbles up another $200 million — Since its launch the plant-based meat company has raised $1.5 billion from investors.

Omaze raises $30 million after expanding beyond celebrity campaigns — The Omaze model has shifted away from celebrity-centric campaigns to include fundraisers offering prizes like an Airstream Caravel or a trip to the Four Seasons resort in Bora Bora.

We’re exploring the future of SaaS at Disrupt this year — We’re bringing Canaan Partners’ Maha Ibrahim, Andreessen Horowitz’s David Ulevitch and Bessemer Venture Partners’ Mary D’Onofrio together to help explain how the landscape has changed.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

How to get what you want in a term sheet — Lior Zorea discusses the reality of term sheets.

Five success factors for behavioral health startups — Courtney Chow and Justin Da Rosa of Battery Ventures argue that behavioral health is particularly suited to benefit from the digitization trends COVID-19 has accelerated.

Minted.com CEO Mariam Naficy shares ‘the biggest surprise about entrepreneurship’ — Naficy got into the weeds with us on topics that founders don’t often discuss.

Everything else

Digital imaging pioneer Russell Kirsch dies at 91 — It’s hard to overstate the impact of his work, which led to the first digitally scanned photo and the creation of what we now think of as pixels.

AMC will offer 15-cent tickets when it reopens 100+ US theaters on August 20 — The theater juggernaut announced plans to reopen more than 100 theaters in the U.S. on August 20.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Facebook users are pretty bad at telling how much time they spend on it

A lot of studies and discussion of social media use time spent on the platforms as evidence for various theories and conclusions — but it turns out that people are actually super bad at telling how long they spend on them, according to research from Facebook.

If you were conducting a study that was looking at how social media use potentially affected or was affected by mood, for instance, you would likely rely on self-reported statistics for both measures.

There’s no objective way to measure mood, of course, so you have to rely on what the participant says. And one would think that those people would have a pretty decent grasp on how long they spent scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Not so much!

Everyone understands that these self-reported numbers will have error, and some studies have demonstrated it, but this meta-study from Facebook, comparing self-reporting with actual server logs, shows that the connection is possibly not reliable enough to use for serious scientific work.

Responses to some questions, when compared to internal data, showed that people overestimated their time on site by hours on average. But they also underestimated the number of times they opened the app or site. Take a look at this exciting chart:

Image Credits: Facebook

As you can see, despite what they thought, very few people actually spent more than three hours on the site per day, with the vast majority spending about one. And the opposite was true of logins: Comparably few people thought they opened the app 10 times a day or more, yet that was extremely common. Younger people especially were prone to error, which, given that these studies tend to have more of that demographic, only emphasizes the problem.

None of this is to say that Facebook is not a site people spend a lot of — perhaps too much — time on, even by their own estimate. But it’s important for studies of these phenomena to be based on reliable data, and it seems that self-reported data isn’t that.

As Facebook says: “We suggest that researchers not use these values directly but rather interpret people’s self-reported time spent as a noisy estimate of where they fall on a distribution relative to other respondents.”

In other words, instead of saying “teens who spend two hours or more on Facebook were more likely to…” you might say, “users in the top 10% of self-reported Facebook use were more likely to…” or some such. If exact times online are needed, a tracking app or collaboration with Facebook is probably a good idea.

You can read the full paper describing Facebook’s research here.

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Instagram Reels arrives in India following TikTok’s ban

In the wake of India’s decision to ban TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps over privacy concerns, Instagram has expanded its TikTok rival, known as Reels, in the region. The test in India also comes only days after Facebook announced its standalone TikTok clone, Lasso, would be shutting down on July 10.

In addition to India, Instagram Reels is live in Brazil, and as of recently, France and Germany. But an Instagram spokesperson hints the expansion may go even broader, without offering specific details.

Business Insider India was the first to report on Reels’ expansion in India, citing unnamed sources for the discovery. It says the expansion is still a “test.”

“We’re planning to start testing an updated version of Reels in more countries,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch, when asked about the feature’s arrival in India. “Reels,” they added, “is a fun, creative way for people to both express themselves and be entertained.”

Unlike Lasso, which had been its own separate app, Reels has been designed to be a feature within Instagram itself. Reels allows users to create and post short, 15-second videos set to music or other audio, similar to TikTok. Also like TikTok, the feature offers a set of editing tools — like a countdown timer and those that adjust the video’s speed, for example — that aim to make it easier to record creative content. However, Instagram doesn’t have the same sort of two-tabbed, scrollable feed, like TikTok offers, just for watching Reels’ content.

Following the launch of Reels last year in Brazil, Instagram updated the feature based on user feedback. Users said they wanted a space to compile their Reels and watch those made by others. To address these concerns, Instagram moved Reels to a dedicated space on the user Profile page and now features Reels in its Explore section, if they’re published by a public account. That gives Reels the potential to go viral by catching the eye of Instagram users who don’t yet follow the creator’s account. (Before, Reels had been only available to Instagram Stories, which limited their exposure.)

The arrival Reels is timely for a number of reasons. For starters, Facebook in June announced it had entered a global deal with Saregama, one of India’s largest music labels, which would allow it to license music for videos and other social experiences across both Facebook and Instagram. Facebook also has agreements with other Indian labels, including Yash Raj Films, Zee Music Company and T-Series. However, the addition of Saregama may have cleared the path for Reels, given the breadth of its content, which includes over 100,000 tracks like those from Indian music legends, plus Bollywood tunes, devotional music, ghazals, indipop and others.

But mainly, it’s ideal timing for Reels to come to India, given the country’s decision to ban TikTok.

The ban on Chinese apps knocked out TikTok from its largest overseas market, leaving a massive opportunity for Instagram to swoop in and pick up new users for Reels. Before its removal, TikTok had amassed more than 200 million users in India, which is a significant loss for the Beijing-headquartered video app.

But Instagram is not without competition for those users. Reuters recently reported a surge in popularity for other Indian video-sharing apps, like Roposo, Chingari and Mitron, for example. Roposo even saw its user base jump by 22 million in the two days after India banned TikTok, the report noted.

Instagram didn’t indicate when Reels would launch in other key markets, like the U.S.

(Updated 7/6/20, 1:30 PM ET to clarify India is considered a test market for Reels, as opposed to an official launch.) 

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Facebook makes education push in India

Facebook, which reaches more users than any other international firm in India, has identified a new area of opportunity to further spread its tentacles in the world’s second largest internet market.

On Sunday, the social juggernaut announced it had partnered with the Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in India, to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being, and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.

Through these subjects, Facebook and CBSE aim to prepare secondary school students for current and emerging jobs, and help them develop skills to safely browse the internet, make “well informed choices,” and think about their mental health, they said.

Facebook said that it will provide these training in various phases. In the first phase, more than 10,000 teachers will be trained; in the second, they will coach 30,000 students. The three-week training on AR will cover fundamentals of the nascent technology, and ways to make use of Facebook’s Spark AR Studio to create augmented reality experiences.

“I encourage the teachers and students to apply for the programs commencing on July 6, 2020,” said Ramesh Pokhriyal, Union Minister of Human Resources Development in India, in a statement.

Facebook has in recent years ramped up its efforts to create awareness about the ill side of technology as its platform confronts with misuse of its own services in the country. Last year it partnered with telecom giant Reliance Jio Platforms — in which it would eventually invest $5.7 billion — to launch “Digital Udaan,” the “largest ever digital literacy program” for first-time internet users in the country. India is the biggest market for Facebook by users count.

Instagram’s Guide for Building Healthy Digital Habits, which has been developed in collaboration with the Jed Foundation and Young Leaders for Active Citizenship, aims to help youngsters better understand the “socio-emotional space” they operate in and engage in health conversations.

“I am proud to share that CBSE is the only Board that has introduced the modules of Digital Safety and Online Well-being, Instagram Toolkit for Teens and Augmented Reality. Incorporating technology and digital safety into school curriculum will ensure students are not only gaining knowledge to succeed in the digital economy but also learning and collaborating in a safe online environment,” said Manoj Ahuja, Chairperson of CBSE, in a statement.

The announcement today caps a remarkable week in India that started with New Delhi blocking nearly 60 services developed by Chinese firms over cybersecurity concerns. TikTok, one of the services that has been hit by India’s order, identified Asia’s third-largest economy as its biggest market outside of China.

The service, run by Chinese giant ByteDance, reaches more than 200 million users in India, most of whom live in small towns and cities. TikTok began working with scores of content creators and firms in India last year to populate its short-form video service with educational videos.

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