The Snap IPO went pretty well, all things considered. Facebook wants things to be all downhill from there. The past year has seen a massive campaign against Snapchat on the part of Facebook, with copies of Snapchat’s Stories feature appearing in all of Facebook’s social properties — Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Today might represent the climax — not only is Facebook adding Stories to its core app, it’s bringing in virtually every feature Snapchat has. For Snap, it’s a problem that won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
Like we saw with Messenger, the camera within Facebook’s app will now be a focal point. Facebook is continuing to add filters, effects, masks, and frames to help make selfies silly and dismantle Evan Spiegel’s fledgling empire. Once all that fun stuff has been added to photos or videos, they can be used in Stories — like usual, a slideshow that tells the story of your day (or whatever story you want to tell) that disappears after 24 hours. Stories from your contacts will now show up in little circle icons above the news feed.
But, Facebook isn’t stopping there. They’re also biting Snapchat’s core feature, snaps. It’s now possible to send disappearing photos or videos to specific contacts using the new Direct feature. Like with Snapchat, these messages will disappear after they’ve been viewed, with the conversation around them disappearing after a time, as well.
Facebook is also expanding the number of filters and effects available. They have special masks and filters for a bunch of new movies coming out this year (like Alien: Covenant and Wonder Woman), and plan to introduce a customization tool for users to create their own borders and effects.
It’s a big move for Facebook. Over the years, Facebook’s size has introduced new problems — users have amassed so many contacts, they’ve started to be a little more skittish about posting the personal updates that Facebook was originally built around. By using Direct to make more limited sharing possible, Facebook could be trying to reverse that trend.
The main reason for all this is to contain Snapchat’s growth. The new Facebook features won’t necessarily steal users or screen time away from Snapchat, but they’ll limit the number of new users Snapchat gets in the future. Now that Snap has gone public, it’s probably good enough for Facebook to just slow that growth down — we only need to look at Twitter to see the havoc user growth slowdown can wreak.
It’s not a cool move by Facebook, but then again, Facebook hasn’t been in the business of cool in a long time. Facebook is the old man in the social media community now, and they want the kids off their lawn.