Masks - Facebook Roll Out Yet Another Snapchat Rip-off

Facebook Newsroom
I can't quite believe we're back in this depressing valley of blue-tinted plagiarism yet again. As if it wasn't enough to outfit WhatsApp with the ability to draw and write on pictures, or unveil a completely new version of Messenger based around ephemeral picture messaging, Facebook have thieved yet another idea from Snapchat. Mark Zuckerberg is looking more and more like Jesse Eisenberg with each passing day.

'Masks' are an augmented reality feature which pastes a digital 'mask' over your own face when you take a selfie, in almost exactly the same way that Snapchat's lenses do. Currently, they're all Halloween themed, and given that we've seen man-makeup, zombie faces and rainbow vomit from the yellow side of the pitch, the options on offer here look decidedly less imaginative. You get a pumpkin, a witch, a skeleton, and a few more less festive but no less generic options.

The difference is, rather than photo messaging, Masks are activated when you're posting a live video through the main Facebook app, but only on iOS in the US, UK and New Zealand for the time being. The Android/more global launch will be some time in the next couple of months.

They were developed by MSQRD, a start-up which Facebook picked up back in March, but hadn't really done anything concrete with until now. I don't think I have to remind anyone that this is a play by Facebook to pull in a younger crowd, as statistics suggest that more millennials are leaving Facebook behind each month, and even those that stay only do so out of necessity. Heaven forbid they might come up with a few genuinely original ideas to keep the young crowd interested.

Again, the fact that it's on Live is the key difference that Facebook are trying to capitalise on. The Halloween-themed wider release suggests that they're hoping everyone will enjoy making scary faces at each other so much that they adopt Masks as a regular part of their live streaming shenanigans. In either case, I doubt Snapchat are losing any sleep over it.

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