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Google expands its monopoly dominance and indexes Instagram Stories and TikToks

A move to become chief aggregator.
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Google is working on projects to “hijack” the short video “story” format – and more importantly, content – from competitors like Instagram and TikTok.

This is happening through Google’s “Short Videos” feature that is currently being tested, critics are warning. Previously, content was pulled from Google’s Tangi and YouTube properties, India’s TikTok competitor Trell, and others.

Google, of course, has a much more positive spin on the project – it says the feature helps Instagram, TikTok, etc, content “surface” when Google “aggregates” and constrains it in carousels visible to users of its mobile app. This means that those searching for videos in this format will be able to view it while “never fully leaving” Google.

Google often has a multitude of similar and seemingly competing projects (notoriously, a plethora of messaging apps) and reports are careful to make a distinction between “Short Videos” and Google “Stories,” aka “AMP Stories” that premiered this last October. The latter features short videos from the giant’s partners in the publishing industry like Vice, USA Today, and many others.

At this time early in the development of “Short Videos” it’s unclear, however, if there is any formal partnership in place with Facebook’s Instagram and TikTok and, if not, how they may react to the news that Google is aggregating their content in search results – while tapping on any of the videos takes a user to the competitors’ website, rather than their app – even if the app is installed on the device.

Google seems to think that users will watch the one video and then return to Google Search with a single tap, instead of spending more time on Instagram and TikTok, as they might do if they are taken to native apps.

Hashtag creator Chris Messina, who previously explored “AMP Stories” and their effect on advertising and the open web, now wonders if indexing Instagram and TikTok content in this way means that “this is how a digital monopoly expands its empire (…) by ingesting and building an auction on top of new media formats?”

Meanwhile, Google is still experimenting with this new feature which is not yet available to all users of its mobile app, while the giant’s representatives are at this time in no mood to provide any more details.

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