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Here’s Why Facebook Just Bought An Anonymous Compliment App

Business

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Facebook has acquired the teen-friendly compliment app tbh for an undisclosed sum.

While 2017 has been quite kind to Facebook’s bank account—the network commands nearly 40 percent of the U.S. display advertising market, per eMarketer—the year has been far less kind to its reputation.

In fact, following talk of filter bubbles, fake news, and malicious ad campaigns, Facebook has revised its mission statement with a deliberate focus on bringing people together.

Given all this, it’s not a huge surprise that Facebook has scooped up a teen-friendly app that fits quite nicely within its public ambitions to “bring the world closer together.” The app is called tbh (abbreviation for “to be honest”) and it’s designed to allow users to anonymous give out compliments to other users.

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but some reports estimate that tbh was acquired for less than $100 million. The company’s four co-founders—Nikita Bier, Erik Hazzard, Kyle Zaragoza, and Nicholas Ducdodon—will be operating out of Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters.

In addition to fitting within the new mission, buying tbh also lines up with Facebook’s somewhat dogged efforts to win attention from post-millennials. This has been seen in previous moves like acquisitions WhatsApp and numerous released Instagram features mimicking those of Snapchat.

In a recent TechCrunch article, the tbh team elaborated on how they differentiate from controversial message apps, like Whisper and Secret, that came before them: “Our goals for anonymity are much different than most apps [that emphasize] the ability to say things without repercussions. This is more about the ability to tell people more of the things that make them happy. One is more targeted toward harassment while ours is more targeted towards making people better off.”

The approach seems to bode well as latest numbers show that the tbh app has been downloaded over 5 million times and its 2.5 million DAUs have sent over 1 billion messages—not too shabby for only being around since August.

How exactly does the app work? Per The Verge, users dish out compliments to an uploaded contact list by answering poll-like questions like “who has best the smile,” “who makes me laugh the hardest,” and “could win an Olympic gold medal for their eyeliner game.” They’ll have four choices of friends to choose from, and once you pick, that friend will get an anonymous notification that includes the question.

Though predominantly targeted to teens, anyone older than 13 can use the app and submit their own poll questions. The tbh team reviews all submitted poll questions to ensure the content is appropriate and non-offensive.

What are your thoughts on the acquisition? Sound off in the comments.

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