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Will Facebook’s Imitation of Snapchat Work This Time?

Mar 28, 2017

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Facebook likes to flatter Snapchat so much the two companies should just drop the charade and get hitched down at City Hall in front of a justice of the peace and whoever they can find at the bus station to act as a witness.

Of course, Facebook famously tried to arrange a marriage with Snapchat in 2013, but the smaller company rebuffed its advances. And now, Snap has grown into a massive competitor, with a market valuation of close to $28 billion following its initial public offering.

Facebook, meanwhile, has continued adding new features that either imitate or flat out duplicate popular features on Snapchat. This morning, it ramped that flattery up even further, with the addition of a camera function with customized filters and the launch of Facebook Stories.

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The camera interface, with a button that lets users add animal faces or animations to their photos and videos, is almost identical to Snapchat's interface. And the new Facebook Stories feature—a way of collecting and sharing photos and video and sharing them with specific friends or on the timeline—is almost identical in both function and name to Snapchat's version.

Facebook has a long history of trying to duplicate Snapchat's features, and most of those efforts have been forgettable. But Instagram's launch of a similar Stories function recently appears to have eaten into Snapchat's market share, according to some reports.

Snapchat has clearly found a niche with younger users, but Facebook has almost unlimited resources and a dedicated user base of more than 1.5 billion. If the ability to add funny filters to a video or photo is what Snapchat was hoping would be its unique offering for the consumer marketplace, it might have another think coming.

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