What do you think the over/under is of how many times Snapchat execs have muttered the phrase ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… right?’ this summer?
First, Instagram Stories launched and consequently rocked the worlds of social media nerds across the nation with what seemed like a blatant rip off of Snapchat’s entire existence. (Too dramatic? Probably.) Then, a few days later, Facebook introduced their new camera with face filters (which I’m calling Camera Feed until someone comes up with a better name), which is Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt to stay true to his promise to “put video at the heart of his app.”
If you’re asking what the heck is Camera Feed, don’t feel totally out of the loop. Chances are you haven’t seen it yet. Facebook implemented an experimental release of the feature and made it exclusively available to Brazil and Canada during the Olympics. Depending on the feedback Facebook received, it could be released globally, but they have not shared any future plans yet.
Camera Feed was designed as an update to the old-school Facebook status update. “12 years ago, most of what was shared was text,” Facebook Product Manager, Sachin Monga, told Tech Crunch. “Now, mobile changed things a little bit but we didn’t really change our tools. If you look at what people are sharing, now it’s mostly photos, and soon it will be mostly videos.”
Facebook’s attempt to stay ahead of the curve (or catch up to it, depending on who you ask) was announced shortly after they released their latest quarter earnings – a whopping $6.4 billion. But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies over at Facebook HQ. According to confidential information received by The Information, original content sharing (status updates, photos, and homemade videos) decreased 15% annually.
The Camera Feed aims to combat this decline directly. Upon opening your Facebook app, the Camera Feed will be at the top of your feed prompting you take a selfie – just as the Snapchat camera opens. Don’t want to catch a glimpse of your dainty mug every time you open Facebook? Switch the camera to face the other direction and it will remain that way for the future. (My resting face thanks you immensely for this feature, Facebook.)
Also, just like Snapchat, the camera will offer face filters through MSQRD’s animated selfie filters. Facebook acquired MSQRD in March for an undisclosed price tag and this is the first time we are seeing integration of its facial filter recognition technology in the social media platform. Users in Brazil and Canada were able to emblazon their faces with face paint in the colors of the Brazilian flag and phrases like “Go Canada!” when the feature first launched.
I must reiterate my point… it sounds a bit too similar to Snapchat’s foundational elements. While not admitting to straight up copycatting like Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom did when he said “[Snapchat] deserves all the credit” in reference to Instagram Stories, Facebook definitely gave them a respectful nod. “The things that’s created the change from text to visual sharing is that everyone has a phone and a camera in their pocket, but [Snapchat has] definitely done a really good job with it,” said Monga.
For now, we must wait to find out if and when Facebook will release this feature to everyone. Until then, you can find me smiling at an exorbitantly gorgeous version of myself in the pretty filter on Snapchat.