In an effort to replicate Snapchat, Facebook (FB) has updated its Messenger application so that users can send their friends 15-second videos (read The Ghost Of Snapchat for more information). This effort is the latest push by Facebook to increase its mobile messaging presence. The company previously purchased its most notable competitor, WhatsApp, for $19 Billion. Facebook’s Messaging application alone has over 200 million active users per month.
These updates to Facebook’s Messenger app came before the official release of its new application, Slingshot (now available), which aims to mimic many of Snapchat’s features; mainly, its disappearing video and picture features. Slingshot is an entirely separate from Facebook’s renowned Messenger app, and has the ability to destroy Snapchat. Slingshot was released early, for tests, in a few markets, including Australia, New Zealand, and Russia, before it was pulled.
One of the main differences between the recent updates to the Messenger application and Snapchat is that videos sent over Messenger do not self-destruct. Understandably, this raises questions about user privacy. Forbes reported that the update has the ability to turn on users’ microphones and listen to surrounding noise. Although Facebook claims this feature is included so that users can share status updates about music and TV shows, it does raises many privacy concerns. Obviously, people don’t wish to be recorded 24/7 (i.e. Donald Sterling).
Ultimately, the new features are an attempt to refresh Facebook’s product portfolio. The company’s most popular demographic, young adults aged 18 to 25, are turning to other social media platforms to satisfy their endless cravings. Between February and November (2013), Facebook’s young adult usage dropped from 91.6% to 88.6%, while other social media websites, like Twitter (TWTR) and Pinterest, continued to increase their memberships. Regardless, although Facebook is losing some of its allure, the company maintains a powerful social media presence.