Facebook Evolves Camera to Take on Snapchat in the Ephemeral Content War



Facebook is rolling out fun photo and video features and a brand new way to explore your friends’ content in the app.


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Here comes Facebook.

On the heels of Snapchat, which recently rebranded as a camera company, Facebook has announced some significant updates to its Camera product. The updates take direct aim at Snapchat’s current offerings, and will be rolled out to the platform’s 1.65 billion users this week.

Part 1: Camera updates

The first update is that Camera is taking a more prominent role in the Facebook experience. Users will soon be able to access it from within the Facebook app by tapping a camera icon on the top left corner or simply swiping right from the News Feed.

The new Camera brings a bevy of fun features, like masks, frames and filters (sound familiar?) that can be placed on photos and videos. Facebook says the creative effects will be refreshed “regularly.”

And yes, there are implications for brands: dynamic features can be branded and a handful of upcoming movies—Alien: Covenant, Despicable Me 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2—are already signed on. Facebook also mentioned that it has plans to allow for customizable filters and frames in the coming months.

Part 2: Stories

Allowing users to create more interesting and dynamic photos and videos is just the first step for Facebook. They’re also re-architecting the way content is shared directly with friends. In a blog post, Facebook gives props to kid sister Instagram for showing us that “it can be fun to share things that can disappear after a day.” [Editor’s note: Dang, that’s cold, Facebook. Everybody knows Snapchat was there first.]

Now, Facebook Stories will be in the main Facebook app, sitting atop the News Feed as its updated, more mobile-friendly counterpart. While there have been algorithmic changes over the years and the introduction of new (ahem, more) ad units, the aesthetics have not changed much. Stories should change all that.

With fun filters to explore, Facebook wants users to liberally share their ephemeral content via Stories. The content will last for 24 hours, just like Snapchat, and will not appear in the feed unless you post them there. As is the case with Instagram Stories and Snapchat, users will likely create certain content for specific friends or groups of friends, and create other kinds of content to share with their network more publicly.

The all-out blitz around ephemeral content marks an important realization from Facebook that the ways in which people share content is moving away from text (goodbye, News Feed) to photos and videos (hello, Stories). Notes TechCrunch’s Josh Constine: “If the camera is the new keyboard, then the future of social media will look more like a slideshow than a Word document.”

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