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December 16, 2016

Can Facebook Messenger win Snapchat users with its camera update?

By Alexander Sword

Facebook Messenger is being updated with a new native camera that may bring it into head-to-head competition with Snapchat.

The Messenger camera will now offer filters, 3D masks, special effects to allow users to customise the photographs that they take through the app.

This includes thousands of stickers, frames, masks, and effects.

The app already featured a camera, but not with the advanced features now on offer.

Facebook MessengerThese new features in the Messenger camera are similar to those in the messaging app Snapchat, suggesting that Facebook is aiming to emulate Snapchat’s success.

Facebook attempted to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013, but the offer was rejected.

According to figures from Versus, Snapchat has 200 million estimated monthly users compared to Messenger’s 130 million.

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In June 2014, it rolled out Slingshot, a Snapchat-like app, enabling users to trade photos and videos that vanished after 24 hours. Prior to this launch, the company offered a photo-editing and sharing app named Camera. The apps generated little response from users.

Snapchat allows its users to send images and videos (and also offers the opportunity to edit them) to a targeted audience. This can be one close friend, to a group of colleagues, or indeed, the whole contacts list. Users can choose for how long their contacts can see the content for. This can go from one second to ten seconds.

Facebook MessengerIn a Medium post, Justin Kan, co-founder of live video platforms Justin.tv, Twitch.tv and Socialcam claimed that the appeal of Snapchat compared to Facebook lay in the greater feeling of privacy.

“Facebook turns into posts about job promotions, exotic vacations, kids’ accomplishments. Twitter is a competition to write the most retweeted witticisms. Instagram is the 9th circle of hell where everyone feels inadequate about their photos of bottle service, Michelin star dining and helicopter rides.

He says that Snapchat removes this competitive element.

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