Facebook is in crackling form to pop Snap’s bubble

28 Mar 2017

Image: Facebook

In a major update, Facebook has launched an all-out assault on Snap.

Facebook has made its most blatant attack on Snap yet with a number of new features, including an ephemeral one that deletes after 24 hours.

Today (28 March), the company launched three new features including Stories, an in-app Camera and Direct, which allows you to share photos, videos and posts with specific friends.

Facebook, which has 1bn daily active users compared with Snap’s 161m users, has been quite predatory towards competing platforms.

It has gone after YouTube’s market in a big way. Messenger and WhatsApp are obliterating the traditional SMS and voice markets. Sister company Instagram has already copied some features from Snap, including ephemeral messaging.

But this is the biggest move yet by Facebook to pop Snap’s bubble.

While the former is not lacking users, its biggest battle is to hold onto the youth market who prefer Instagram and Snap, and view the ageing Facebook as a kind of awkward family dinner party.

Facebook wants to reach the 24-hour party people

Facebook is in crackling form to pop Snap’s bubble

Some of the new camera effects on the in-app camera for Facebook. Image: Facebook

Product manager Connor Hayes outlined the new features that showcase the tech giant’s audacious social media endgame strategy.

Snap led the market with camera effects, which was part of its secret sauce, so Facebook has responded with a raft of new effects including masks, frames and interactive filters that can be accessed via the in-app camera.

Users can apply reactive effects that interact with dynamic objects – such as falling snow  – and artistic filters to video in real time.

Facebook also revealed that it is partnering with brands to create masks for upcoming movies including Alien: Covenant, Despicable Me 3, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Power Rangers, Smurfs: The Lost Village and Wonder Woman.

It also features guest art from visual artists such as Douglas Coupland and Hattie Stewart.

The similarities with Snap don’t end there.

The new Direct feature lets users share content such as photos and videos with specific friends for a limited time.

When you send a photo or video via Direct, your friends will be able to view it once and replay it or write a reply. Once the conversation on the photo or video ends, the content is no longer visible in Direct.

And in the main Facebook app, the social network is introducing Facebook Stories, which allows users to share multiple photos and videos as part of a visual collection.

“Your friends can view photos or videos your story for 24 hours, and stories won’t appear on your Timeline or in News Feed unless you post them there, too,” explained Hayes.

It is hard to say what Snap will make of this latest affront by Facebook, but all we can say is that if they are imitating you, you must be doing something right.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years