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TikTok exec doesn't fear Instagram's competing feature: 'You can't copy a community'

"TikTok is here for the long run," the app's head of U.S. operations told TODAY.
/ Source: TODAY

TikTok may have some new competition, but the people who run the app are not worried.

Vanessa Pappas, the general manager for TikTok's operations in North America, Australia and New Zealand, says she is not concerned that the company will lose users to Instagram Reels, a new service similar to TikTok that lets people create and post short video clips with a music backdrop.

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“You can certainly copy a feature, but you can't copy a community,” she told NBC's Jo Ling Kent in an interview that aired Wednesday. “And I think what’s really unique about TikTok is this amazing community that has found a home on the platform.”

Instagram’s decision to roll out Reels is the latest threat to TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. President Trump has ordered TikTok to be sold to an American company by Sept. 15, claiming it is a threat to national security amid concerns that Chinese law can allow any domestic business to share data about its users.

The president has also publicly stated his intent to outlaw TikTok, which has over 100 million users, more than a third of whom may be under the age of 14.

“As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said in late July. He has also issued an executive order banning U.S. companies from doing business with TikTok.

“No, we’re not a national security threat. We’ve said that time and again,” Pappas told Kent. “We have very strict data controls in place and we have an amazing team building a world-class infrastructure, and it's something we put front and center in terms of protecting our users.”

She also said TikTok does not sell user information.

There may be uncertainty surrounding the company, but Pappas feels it’s not going anywhere soon.

“TikTok is here for the long run. We’ve been called the last sunny spot of the internet," she said.

"We’re really proud of this ability for human connection and just having this space for just joy and fun. When was the last time you were just able to say, ‘Hey, I went on social media, and it was a fun experience’?”