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Facebook: The social media copycat?

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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Some social media channels are taking that phrase way too seriously. Facebook, the social media channel we all signed up to before we turned 13, recently introduced a feature where you can post a picture and it will disappear in 24 hours. Sound familiar? It should.

This is exactly the same concept as Snapchat Stories, rolled out in 2013 by a small-but-mighty application- Snapchat. The move may not make sense on a financial level, as Snap Inc., its owner, is nowhere near Facebook Inc. in terms of revenue.

Facebook Inc. also owns Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, making it by far the most used social networking site in the world. A recent survey revealed that almost 80% of internet users have a Facebook account, with those in the 18-29 age bracket using it the most.

It leaves all of its competitors behind when we look at daily usage, engagement and growth over time. It currently dominates the social landscape, and that does not look like it will be slowing down soon. So why does it need to copy someone else?

Facebook has become, in one way or another, the channel that the younger generation runs away from after seeing their older relatives sign up to the website.

This move is not merely a way to eliminate the competition – especially considering that Snapchat turned down Facebook’s astounding $3 billion offer in 2013 – but a way into re-attracting the millennial traffic. Facebook has become, in one way or another, the channel that the younger generation runs away from after seeing their older relatives sign up to the website.

They have been fleeing to ‘younger’ apps, like Snapchat and Facebook-owned Instagram. So of course, by having the same type of environment on Facebook, no one will need to download Snapchat. Right? But here’s the catch: Snapchat’s 50 million daily active users that it had in 2016 are just not available anymore.

To put it simply, there are too many people on your friend list that do not need to see pictures of you with a superimposed minion, like your sixth form English teacher, your childhood neighbour and your old boss.

What Facebook doesn’t seem to understand is that Snapchat users, or even those who have migrated to Instagram, will not make the jump to Facebook Stories. To put it simply, there are too many people on your friend list that do not need to see pictures of you with a superimposed minion, like your sixth form English teacher, your childhood neighbour and your old boss.

To add to that, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and the inspiration behind blockbuster The Social Network, is nothing like Evan Spiegel, the 26-year old CEO of Snapchat. Since Snap Inc. was founded in 2011, it has unleashed various innovative ideas, such as the most recent venture into Spectacles, the “smart glasses” that can connect to your phone.

Facebook simply does not have that novelty anymore. With so many problems facing the tech mega-giant, especially in the form of fake news and echo chambers, there simply is no room to create new ideas. So the cop-out move is to copy what someone else has done.

I don’t think Facebook Stories will necessarily fail, but I also don’t think it will have the effect that Zuckerberg is hoping for. On a more personal note, I’ve decided that this new feature is not something I’ll be using in the near future. Whether it is because of my morals, or the fact that I have too many family members on that website, I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

 

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