All the Social Media Platforms Are in a Race to Become the Same

Instagram wants to be Tik Tok. Now Tik Tok wants to be YouTube. Can't anything just do what it's intended to?

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Social media platforms are competing for who can be the best at it all. Why?

After a long day of watching YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels, why don’t you relax with a … 10-minute-long TikTok?

On Monday, TikTok announced that they’d be extending their video content limit to 10 minutes, up from the three-minute limit which came into effect in July 2021. A statement from a TikTok spokesperson said, “Today, we’re excited to start rolling out the ability to upload videos that are up to 10 minutes, which we hope would unleash even more creative possibilities for our creators.”

Shifts like this aren’t new for social media sites. YouTube rolled out Shorts, a place for minute-long videos on the site, in March of 2021. Before that it was Instagram Reels, launched in August of 2020 to compete with TikTok, and before that, Instagram rolled out a video feature to compete with the now-defunct Vine app in 2013. 

Basically, every site is trying to become the top site for all formats, rather than focusing on the format that already works for them.

The popularity of longer-form video content, some videos as long as 5 hours, has been rising on Youtube, with “video essays” on everything from M.A.S.H to My Little Pony going viral. But YouTube seems to be trying to shift to shorter-form content, while Instagram has pretty much become the place to back up their TikTok drafts with the Reels feature. TikTok, meanwhile, has been making video limits longer and longer, moving out of short-form content to compete with YouTube and Facebook, while making it easier to monetize content for a platform that has struggled to keep up with creators’ demands for payment. While all the sites are rushing to adapt to as many forms as possible to gain control of the video content market, the original purposes of the sites have been fading into the background, and now we have a jumbled mess of apps that all kind of feel like each other, but at their worst. 

This shift also comes on the heels of a rise in misinformation on TikTok, as videos of the ongoing war in Ukraine, or that claim to be of the conflict, go viral. Users have been speculating about whether this jump in video limits is allowing for more citizen journalism from the region and longer-form news content, or if this will allow for more misinformation to go unnoticed by the platform, which seems uninterested in stopping the spread of such content.

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