This New Facebook Feature Is Yet Another Attempt to Copy Snapchat

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduces a new messenger platform at the F8 summit in San Francisco, California, on March 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo by Josh Edelson—AFP via Getty Images

Facebook may be a $365 billion globe-spanning giant with 1.7 billion users and an iron grip on the world of advertising, but it apparently still wants more. For one thing, the social network seems jealous of the success that Snapchat has had with its ephemeral messaging service.

You can tell that Facebook is envious because of the number of times it has tried to copy its smaller competitor. The latest attempt is an experimental feature called “Messenger Day,” which is reportedly being tested in Poland.

The app allows Facebook (FB) users to share photos and videos with friends, and gives them a variety of filters and stickers they can add to them, as well as sharing suggestions.

The messages automatically self-destruct after 24 hours, similar to Snapchat’s Story feature, which allows users to add photos and videos to a collection that they can share with other users.

A Facebook spokesman told TechCrunch that the social network is “running a small test of new ways for people to share updates visually” in Poland, but that it has nothing to announce. Facebook often runs such experiments, but they don’t always turn into actual products.

The ephemeral nature of Snapchat’s Stories has played a big role in the company’s success, because users say the knowledge that their posts to friends will automatically self-destruct after a certain time period removes a lot of the social pressure they feel in posting to social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Depending on how you count, Messenger Day is the fifth or sixth offering from Facebook that mimics some of Snapchat’s features, especially the auto-destruct setting.

Most recently, Facebook’s photo-sharing service Instagram more or less duplicated Snapchat’s Story format, right down to the name, when it launched Instagram Stories, which also lets users share photos and videos with filters and have them auto-destruct after 24 hours.

The social network tried adding a self-destruct feature to the regular news-feed via something it called Quick Updates, but never rolled the feature out beyond a small number of test subjects. It also experimented with Facebook Messenger messages that auto-expired after an hour, and users continue to report seeing similar tests.

In 2014, the company rolled out a standalone app called Slingshot that allowed users to send photos and other messages to groups of friends and have them self-destruct, but it shut the app down last year.

Before that, the social network introduced an app in 2012 called Poke—named after an early feature of the platform—that allowed users to send short messages that automatically vanished after 10 seconds. However, the app didn’t gain much traction with users and it was mothballed in 2014.

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