Why your Facebook feed could look more like Snapchat

Facebook is testing new photo editing features in its latest bid to compete with newer, trendier social media networks.

Dado Ruvic/Reuters/Files
A 3D plastic representation of the Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed logos of social networks in this illustration in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 13.

Facebook has just released a new photo uploader that helps users supercharge their images.

The new tool, which just started rolling out on iOS, lets users preview filters by swiping across photos, add overlaid text in various colors, and paste Facebook stickers anywhere on an image – the resemblance to features offered on popular mobile messaging service Snapchat has not been lost on pundits.

“If putting text, swipeable filters, and re-sizable emoji on photos sounds familiar, it might be because that’s exactly what Snapchat does,” technology journalist Josh Constine wrote for TechCrunch.

These latest updates are not Facebook’s first attempt at making the expiring-message trend their own. In 2013, shortly after it bought Instagram for $1 billion, the social network giant offered “close to $3 billion” for Snapchat – an offer that the messaging service turned down, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Since then, Facebook has launched a series of applications designed to outdo Snapchat, but with little success: last year, the social network pulled Poke, an app that let users send quick-to-expire photos, videos, messages, or pokes, from the Apple App Store with little fanfare.

Slingshot, which sends editable, ephemeral messages that users have to “unlock” to send, is still available, but the app’s “pay-to-play” mechanics not only makes it less exciting – it also “raises barriers instead of tearing them down,” The Verge noted.

The new updates may be Facebook’s way of “trying to bake the best of everything else into its own,” Mr. Constine wrote.

iOS users who receive the update on their mobile apps will be able to easily swipe to choose filters for uploaded images, with the left half showing the unedited photo and the right half the photo with the filter applied. A wand icon on the bottom left of the uploaded image leads the user to an enhancement tray that includes options for cropping, tagging, text, and stickers.

“You can type in text, pinch and drag to re-size and move it, and use a color slider to choose a hue,” Constine noted. “Annoyingly, though, you have to write the text and choose the color with your photo blurred in the background, rather than live on the photo itself like with Snapchat.”

Facebook has, of course, said that the new features are simply part of the company’s effort to foster creativity and imagination among its 1.4 billion users.

“People want to be creative when they share experiences with their friends and family on Facebook,” the company said in a statement. “We are rolling out a new place to house all of Facebook’s photo-editing tools, making it even easier to add filters, stickers, or text to your photos.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.