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TikTok says it's testing letting users post 60-minute videos

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TikTok is testing letting users upload videos that are 60 minutes long as it experiments with longer form content.

The feature is in a trial phase, and only a small number of randomly selected users have access to it, TikTok told CBS MoneyWatch. The company added that it has no immediate plans to roll the capability out more widely to its community, noting that it routinely experiments with features that do not become permanent.

A move by TikTok to embrace longer videos would heighten its fierce competition with Alphabet-owned YouTube, which in 2019 launched Shorts, a section of the site featuring videos that are under one minute in length.

To be sure, TikTok's future in the U.S. remains cloudy after President Joe Biden in April enacted a law that could lead to the platform being banned if TikTok parent company Bytedance doesn't sell its stake in the company within a year. TikTok and ByteDance earlier this month filed a lawsuit against the U.S., arguing that the bill is unconstitutional. 

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Facilitating much longer videos on its platform would mark a major shift for TikTok, whose explosive growth was built on users posting short-form video content. TikTok has 170 million monthly active users in the U.S.

When TikTok originally launched in 2016, videos had an upper limit of 15 seconds each. But the company, which is owned by ByteDance, has since extended their durations and currently lets all users upload videos that are as long as 10 minutes.

In 2021, TikTok started letting users post videos that were longer than 60 seconds each. "With longer videos, creators will have the canvas to create new or expanded types of content on TikTok, with the flexibility of a bit more space,' the company said in a blog post at the time. 

Social media consultant Matt Navarra was first to spot TikTok's video trial, posting an alert he got from TikTok on Threads, a text app from Meta. "Upload videos up to 60 minutes long! Make sure your app is up-to-date, then try uploading from your app or desktop on," the alert read, according to Navarra's post. 

Enabling long-form videos is a way for TikTok to get users to spend more time on the app, while also discouraging them from leaving the platform to find such content, Navarra told CBS MoneyWatch. 

"The algorithm will will make sure to serve them what they want to see," he said. "I think TikTok will find people within platform that want long-form, and those that don't will not be shown it."

It would also allow Netflix and other streaming services that might release movies or TV series exclusively online to promote new content on TikTok, he said.

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