Continuing its efforts to out-Snap Snap, Facebook is now inviting Messenger users to add animated reactions, filters, masks and other effects to their video chats.
Among other new options, users can choose from one of the five Messenger emoji icons to express their current mood. After animating onto their screens, the reactions then quickly disappear.
“We know the Messenger community [heart emoji] reactions,” Nora Micheva, a Messenger product manager at Facebook, notes in a new blog post.
Of course, it wasn’t long ago that animated reactions, masks and disappearing messages were the sole domain of Snapchat. That was before Instagram and its parent company began copying Snap’s features.
For Facebook and Instagram, the strategy has been successful. For example, since adding Stories last summer, Instagram has seen the feature embraced by 250 million daily users. That’s up from 200 million since April alone, Instagram revealed.
More recently, Instagram added “face filters.” As with Snapchat, users can augment their selfies with swirling math equations, a wreath of flowers, furry koala ears and other tricks.
Facebook also recently added Stories to its flagship app. Like Snapchat’s own Stories service, Facebook’s new offering encourages users to share multiple photos and videos as part of a "visual collection" atop their News Feed.
While Masks in Messenger were previously available, Facebook is now adding more options to the mix.
As of April, Messenger boasted more than 1.2 billion monthly active users. That’s not bad for an app many users initially rejected when Facebook decided to separate it from its flagship service back in 2014.
The growth is even more impressive, considering the competition that Messenger is facing, including from other Facebook-owned apps.
If not at the expense of Messenger, Facebook is investing significant resources into Direct, Instagram’s own messaging feature. In fact, the social giant just streamlined Direct. It will now present users’ permanent and disappearing messages in one thread.
Since its last update in late 2016, the number of people using Direct has grown from 300 million to 375 million, per internal figures.