Masquerade Technologies Inc., the Minsk-based start-up behind the wildly popular MSQRD app, has been acquired by Facebook Inc. Many social media marketing experts say the acquisition is Facebook’s latest move against Snapchat, the successful image-sharing app that Mark Zuckerberg’s company unsuccessfully attempted to acquire in 2013.
Masquerade’s technology, which was developed during a 48-hour hackathon event in November, has proved hugely popular with a wide range of users in a short amount of time. The app, which was launched only three months ago, has already racked up over 15 million users. Celebrity users, such as Snoop Dogg and Jimmy Kimmel, have been a huge part of the app’s success.
The app works by mapping and tracking users’ faces in recorded video, allowing users to replace their own faces with a series of filters. Users can make videos of themselves with their faces replaced by the faces of celebrities, politicians, animals, and many other options. Social media marketing experts have pointed out that MSQRD’s filters are highly similar to those offered through Snapchat’s Lenses feature, which was launched late last year.
One of MSQRD’s most popular filters allows two people to take a video of themselves side by side with their faces interchanged. An almost identical feature for photos was launched by Snapchat a few months ago.
For now, the MSQRD app will remain independent from Facebook, and users will be able to continue uploading filter options and videos to the app. During this time, the Masquerade Technologies team is working with Facebook to integrate the video filter technology into Facebook programs, such as Messenger.
Within the social media marketing world, the consensus is that Facebook’s acquisition of Masquerade is just the latest in a series of attempts by the company to compete with Snapchat. In 2013, Facebook famously offered Snapchat’s owners a package of $3 billion in an attempt to acquire the company, much as it did with Instagram in 2011. Snapchat’s owners turned them down. Since then, Mark Zuckerberg’s company has acquired or developed a number of image and video sharing apps and technologies in an attempt to make Facebook and Instagram more attractive and feature-rich image-sharing platforms than Snapchat.
Social media marketing experts are, as of yet, unsure of what the acquisition means for brands on Facebook and are waiting on more information on how Masquerade’s technology will be integrated into Facebook’s programs. One possibility is brand-centric filters, similar to those currently allowed by Snapchat. Regardless of how Masquerade changes Facebook, many experts feel that this represents Facebook’s best chance to wat at Snapchat’s market share, especially as Masquerade continues to stack up new users.
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