First 'stories', now 'face filters': Is Instagram sneaking up on Snapchat?

It's been nearly one year since Instagram controversially 'stole' Snapchat’s Stories feature

 |  2-minute read |   17-05-2017
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Filters can get you into trouble and even Instagram knows it today. A new feature "face filters", which closely resembles functionality already available with its competitor Snapchat, has Instagram and its parent firm Facebook facing questions over ethics violation.

Instagram's take on "face filters" will be available in eight different augmented-reality variations that were rolled out on May 16. These fun filters can make the user look like a Koala, place virtual crowns on the heads or show math equations spinning around them.

It reminds one of Snapchat's "lenses" feature, and the stories feature which Instagram adopted from its rival.

However, is there more to the story?

First stories, now face filters? 

It's been nearly a year since Instagram "stole" Snapchat’s Stories feature. The move came at a time when the website trailed its rival and the Stories feature gave it the much-needed push to overtake Snapchat's user base. The rolling out of "face filters" also comes at another such crucial juncture, and could have similar results. 

Evan Spiegel and his team at Snapchat will be particularly unhappy with the timing of the launch of face filters, which comes days after the company announced underwhelming earnings for its first financial quarter this year.

Instagram snatching away another key feature from Snapchat will dampen investors' outlook towards the company's prospects. This will also give strength to the argument that Instagram (read Facebook) is not justified in poaching popular features designed by rival Snapchat. 

insta1-copy_051717043227.jpg[Photo: Instagram]

"This is the way the tech industry works”

For its part, Instagram has been quick to downplay the allegations. In a recent interview, VP of Product Kevin Weil explained the incident by saying: “It’s how the tech industry works and it’s how most industries work." He added, "I think it would frankly be silly of us if we were to say ‘Oh, see that good idea over there that’s actually fulfilling a need people have to share more moments of their life?' Because one person did that we can’t even go near that idea.” 

Part of Facebook's larger augmented reality push

Last month, at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference, the tech firm’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg had changed the script and made a renewed push for augmented reality. "Face filters" thus falls in line with Facebook's larger plans of making the technology more mainstream.

The addition of this new feature to Instagram is thus not just a move to thwart the progress of Snapchat, but also one that will help Mark Zuckerberg cement his position as a true champion of augmented reality.  

With such developments, "Face filters" cannot be simply explained as Facebook playing tricks to weed out competition. 

Also read: Oh, Snap! Mob judgments can do without Evan Spiegel's app

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