Facebook Updates Video Player with ‘Vertical First’ to Rival TikTok

Facebook updates video player to be vertical first
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Facebook updates video player to be vertical first
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Photo Credit: Dima Solomin

Facebook updates its video player to offer a more streamlined design for all lengths of video, with a ‘vertical first’ default to rival TikTok.

On Wednesday, April 3, Facebook updated its video player for a better experience in playing all types of video, including the company’s short-form Reels, Live broadcasts, and regular long-form video. First launching in the US and Canada, the updated video player aims to provide a streamlined experience in watching and sharing video content — and it defaults to a vertical orientation made popular by TikTok.

Behind the scenes, this change will enable Facebook to recommend relevant videos to watch next, whether long-form, short-form, or live broadcast. That’s a key move for advertisers and creators, those most affected by the number of views, watch time, and overall reach of their content. Chiefly, the update enables Facebook to reasonably compete against other video platforms that rely on algorithmic recommendations, such as TikTok and YouTube.

Additionally, given the demand for short-form content, Facebook says it will show users more Reels from now on, similar to sister company Instagram’s push to focus more attention on its short-form offerings.

Though it defaults to showing videos in vertical mode, the upgraded video player also offers a full-screen mode for horizontal videos. This option allows users to flip their device to watch videos in landscape mode, and back again to revert to vertical viewing. There’s also a slider to skip to specific parts of longer videos, and users can tap on a video to bring up more options like pausing, or jumping back or forward by 10 seconds.

Facebook’s updated video player started rolling out this week for users in the United States and Canada, with global expansion on the way in the coming months.

The update might also allow Facebook to gain some traction with Gen Z, whose interest in the platform has declined in the past decade — although The New York Times notes that Facebook’s Marketplace is already seeing more use among younger generations.

Timing for the update couldn’t be better, given TikTok’s uncertain future in the US, which could lead to a ban that would drive increased video consumption to competing platforms.