Facebook Develops Prototype Camera to Encourage Sharing

Facebook, concerned about the slowdown in users sharing videos, photos and updates, is developing a standalone camera app. Facebook’s “friend-sharing” team has created a prototype that, similar to Snapchat, opens to a camera that also allows users to live stream video. But people familiar with the project say it may never come to fruition. Facebook has built other sharing apps: Slingshot let users trade photos and videos that disappeared in 24 hours; Camera was a photo-editing/sharing app. Neither caught on and were dropped.

The Wall Street Journal says the decrease in active behavior on Facebook began a year ago. The Information reports that “original broadcast sharing” is down 21 percent as of mid-2015, compared with 2014. GlobalWebIndex polled users and learned that 33 percent of them updated their profile status in the last month, compared to 44 percent in the previous year; likewise, 37 percent said they uploaded or shared photos, compared to 46 percent the previous year.


A Facebook spokesperson reports that sharing on Facebook is strong and “similar to levels in prior years.” Nonetheless, WSJ reports “anxiety within Facebook” over users’ “increasingly passive behavior,” and that “reversing the trend is a growing priority within the company.”

The camera app is “aimed at motivating users to create photos and videos,” and differs from the company’s Instagram app, which “forces users to go through several steps before posting a picture, including filters.”

The camera app is only one way Facebook is trying to spur participation. The company now displays “reminders” at the top of some users’ news feeds, based on interests, locations, holidays, sports games or TV show premieres. Facebook also launched “On This Day,” which resurrects past posts. GlobalWebIndex says more users are “liking” posts, 82 percent did so at least once a month in Q1 2016 compared to 73 percent in the same period a year ago.

Facebook is also providing the option of posting pre-made collages of recently posted photographs, and its purchase of video-sharing app MSQRD also allows users to apply filters and “swap” faces with others in the picture, similar to Snapchat.

Adoption of the camera app could be challenging, says WSJ, because users are “increasingly reluctant to download more apps,” an argument Facebook itself made against chatbots in its Messenger app. Although Facebook shut its in-house app incubator Creative Labs, the company says it will continue to develop standalone apps.

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