This article is part of the On Tech Newsletter. Here is a collection Past columns,
Facebook is going to make you love its short video format called Reels, whether you like it or not.
Byte-sized and repetitive videos were launched on Instagram in 2020, as a complete copy of TikTok, the most popular app of the time and now. If you haven’t noticed the reels yet, you’ll see soon.
The parent company of Meta, Facebook and Instagram said this week that it would display reels in more places in its apps. Prime is also taking real estate to the top of the screen when people open the Facebook app. We’ll probably see reels of used cars listed on Facebook’s Craigslist version soon.
Pushing the reels into our eyeballs is a little sad, a little bit brighter – and worth seeing as a test of Facebook’s ability to continue gaining popularity. Taking advantage of success to get more success is how influential companies win – and it has worked for Facebook before – but also how influential companies lose.
Facebook could be the most interesting technology story to see in 2022. The company may be closer to the last days of the empire or rediscover itself and become more popular and prosperous.
We may not want to admit it, but the future of Facebook and its strategy affects us all. The company’s choices about which features to prioritize affect how billions of people interact, how businesses reach their customers, and the rest of the Internet.
Reels are an essential part of Facebook’s strategy to eliminate the company’s worst fears of losing its appeal to young people and being pushed into irrelevance. Facebook needs a little bit of cooling out of it, and has created its own version of that app for Instagram.
It’s not clear if Reels is a particularly effective copy of TikTok, but it doesn’t matter.
Facebook says Reels is moving forward and people using its apps spend more time with video than anything else. The company has expanded Reels from Instagram to the Facebook app and now to those apps and more spots in more countries. The company is also experimenting with financial incentives to force more professional internet entertainers to build reels.
We don’t really know how popular the reels are or why. Do people like reels because they like them, or because they are fair There, Google recently said that videos from its own version of Tiktok, YouTube Shorts, are viewed 15 billion times a day. The figure is so big that I didn’t believe it before, but I should. Google has billions of users, and it’s a valuable asset to grab new things.
Facebook versions of TicTac, Zoom or NextDor may not be good, but the company has many ways to try out billions of people using its apps. The company can see what people like and don’t like, tinker and continue to make the new product better – and inevitable – until it catches up.
That’s exactly what Facebook did with Stories about five years ago, a copy of its most popular feature on Snapchat. Facebook experimented with video-and-photo chronicles of people’s days on Instagram and made them leaders in the company’s apps, and then they won.
The playbook for the reels looks almost identical, and Facebook executives have essentially told investors: hey, we’ve got the stories, and we’ll do the same with the reels. Putting its muscle behind new products is not foolproof for Facebook. This is not even the company’s first attempt to copy TikTok.
Following the lead of other tech companies, Facebook doesn’t seem to be innovative, although it probably doesn’t matter. The history of Silicon Valley is marked by companies that did not have to make a product first or better but made it the biggest.
But the recent rise of young companies like Tiktok and e-commerce star Shopify may be proof that innovative upstarts can take advantage of tech superpowers.
That’s what makes Facebook so exciting to look at. A big tech superpower could put all its muscles on top, or it might be drying up in front of us.
Tip of the week
Automate your path to energy savings
Brian X ChenThe New York Times Consumer Technology columnist has helpful ways to trim your electric bill – and maybe force yourself to stop inadvertently surfing your laptop.
For the latest column, I tested energy saving technology to fight gas and electricity bills. I found that devices like the Nest thermostat were useful but did less to lower my home’s energy bill than old-school improvements like installing proper insulation and sealing air leaks.
However, everything you can do to avoid wasting energy is worthwhile. One way to make it easier is to set a schedule for turning off electrical appliances in the home so that they use less power.
Some believe that putting a computer into sleep mode saves more power than shutting it down because it has the amount of energy needed to restart it. But it’s a myth: the Department of Energy recommends turning off the device if you don’t want to use it for more than two hours.
Here’s how to do it with a Mac computer, Windows PC and Lite Switch.
On a Mac, you can program to shut down your computer at a specific time each day. I’m trying to stop working by dinner time, so I opened the computer’s System Preferences app, found the option for “Energy Saver” and then clicked on “Battery” and “Schedule”. There, I checked the box every evening at 6 o’clock to turn off my computer
To schedule lights off, you can purchase an Internet-connected lighting product such as TP-Link’s Casa Smart Light Switch. The TP-Link app has settings for turning the lights on and off at certain hours.
Before we go
New weapons of war: As Russia prepares to invade Ukraine, cyberattacks have taken offline the websites of some of Ukraine’s government agencies and banks. Researchers too Said That they discovered malicious software that erased data from hundreds of computers in Ukraine.
Related: My colleagues Emily Flitter and David Yafe-Bella report that Russian companies could use cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to bypass international sanctions on financial transactions aimed at punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Cryptocurrency prices also fell on Thursday. When the world is volatile, investors tend to sell high-risk assets.
“All the discomfort and potentially harmful things created on the Internet seem more powerful in virtual reality.” Bloomberg News writer Naomi Nixon said after an awkward encounter using Facebook’s Quest Virtual Reality headset.
Soccer teams call students: My colleague Rory Smith writes that the appointment of a Data Scientist by the German soccer team shows that the game is adopting data analysis to evaluate the skills of the players.
It is sad to see war unfolding in Ukraine. If you need a measure of fun, especially today, can I recommend looking at these gorgeous photos of legs wearing colorful sweaters celebrity noodles. They are a few months old, but I’m fine with that.