Facebook users in Brazil and Canada will see a new option when they open the app during this month’s Olympics. The social media giant is testing a Snapchat-like selfie camera, complete with face-tracing filters, which automatically turns on above the “What’s on your mind?” field when a user begins a status update from the mobile app.
The new filters, which mimic Snapchat Lenses, will let users show support for their Olympic teams by wearing virtual face paint of a Canadian or Brazilian flag, for example. This is the first implementation of the technology that Facebook acquired when it bought MSQRD, a video effects app, in March. The new feature was made available Friday to all iOS and Android users in Canada, and all iOS users in Brazil. It will remain active through the end of the Olympic games.
The move comes as Facebook is sensing a shift in how people want to interact through social media. “The way that people share has changed a lot,” Facebook Product Manager Sachin Monga told TechCrunch. “Twelve years ago, most of what was shared was text. 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.”
This isn’t he first time Facebook has flirted with the idea of implementing Snapchat-like features. The move also comes hot on the heels of Instagram’s new Stories feature, which is nearly a direct copy of a feature by the same name in Snapchat. It lets users share a temporally organized string of photos and videos that will only be visible for 24 hours.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, had also tried to acquire Snapchat in 2013. After that deal fell through, Snapchat went on to see impressive growth. This latest move from Facebook seems to put an interesting twist on an old saying: if you can’t get them to join you, beat them.
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