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TikTok is giving Instagram the toughest competition it has ever seen, CEO Adam Mosseri said Thursday.
In an interview with CNBC, Mosseri described his photo sharing app as “playing catch-up in a lot of ways” to the mega-popular Chinese app, whose US user base has quickly grown to more than 100 million.
“TikTok is an incredibly formidable competitor, probably the most formidable competitor we’ve ever seen,” Mosseri said, adding that the company deserves “a lot of credit” for popularizing the short-form video format.
Instagram has attempted to copy TikTok with its new Reels feature, and is working to poach popular content creators with its deep pockets, but is still chasing TikTok.
“Without compelling content there’s no reason to go to Reels in the first place,” he said.
Mosseri’s cable appearance came the day after Instagram parent company Facebook was hit with two blockbuster lawsuits from the Federal Trade Commission as well as 48 attorneys general.
He highlighted TikTok’s popularity as evidence that Facebook hasn’t used monopoly power to crush competition. The FTC’s lawsuit cites a 2008 email from Mark Zuckerberg where the then-24-year-old CEO said “it is better to buy than compete,” and notes that the company also looked into acquiring rivals Twitter and Snapchat.
The lawsuits, which seek to compel Facebook to sell off its Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions, would only hurt consumers, he said.
““I think the key thing there is to understand what problem you’re trying to solve and what the consequences are,” Mosseri said. “The consequences though, I think would be really, really significant for the people who use and rely on Instagram.”
Separating Instagram from Facebook would greatly impact user safety, the executive added, because Instagram would lose access to the army of engineers that Facebook has working on the safety and integrity of its family of apps.
Facebook over the summer began rolling out a controversial plan to merge the messaging platforms of Messenger and Instagram, a move critics said is part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to make the company harder for regulators to break up.
The Instagram app was rebranded earlier this year to “Instagram from Facebook.”