Saving Face: How Facebook is Cloning Snapchat’s Features to Promote Original Content

By: Anna Barden | @awbarden

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Or in Facebook’s case, aim to do both.

Facebook is testing a photo messaging feature that bares a striking resemblance to Snapchat’s main functions: photo filters which mask your face, full-frame effects, and the choice to send photos directly or share with as many people as you like. These photos will only last temporarily as well, just like the way photos taken on Snapchat do.

  Photo credit: The Verge

Photo credit: The Verge

To access the feature, Facebook users would either swipe right on the main screen of Facebook, or tap a button in the top left corner of the app- an approach that is literally in-your-face. The introduction of the Snapchat-like feature is another product of Facebook’s failure to buy Snapchat three years ago. A timeline of Facebook replicating Snapchat’s features can be found here.

Facebook has owned a number of companies for several years. Among them are Instagram LLC (bought in 2012 for $1 billion) and WhatsApp Inc. (bought in 2014 for $19 billion). Buying these companies was part of Facebook’s plan to rule the world of social networking <insert evil Zuckerberg laugh here>.

Instagram launched a Stories feature in August of this year, inspired by Snapchat’s stories feature. In a Forbes article, it was stated that “it’s reasonable to call Instagram’s feature a Snapchat clone.” This occurred around the same time that Facebook tried to purchase Snow, which TechCrunch describes as an “Asian Snapchat clone.”

Facebook has also “been inspired” by Timehop, an app that “turns back time” by displaying your social media posts on the anniversary of which they were published. On Facebook, a similar feature is known as “On This Day.” This feature makes it easy for users to share memorable content and provides a level of nostalgia, making the app more personable altogether.

All of this is part of Facebook’s plan to “get users to share more original content,” since the sharing culture of viral memes, videos and articles has become so prevalent, but it seems that this is being accomplished with a copycat technique rather than by using attributes that are original to Facebook.  Also apps like Snapchat pose a huge threat, because the platforms revolve around original content.

Only the future will tell if Facebook will drive success from the new features that will be introduced, and whether or not Snapchat and other apps will suffer.

Are you taking all of this at “face” value? Let us know @socialmediadel