Facebook is working hard to turn things around after the revelation that its users are spending more time scrolling passively through other users’ content and less time posting pictures and text of their own.

The social network is trying to boost engagement so it can hold on to its 1.5 billion users, and one way it hopes to accomplish that is through the development of a camera app that is akin to Snapchat.

A prototype of the app, which was developed by the social network’s “friend-sharing” team, opens up a camera that is not unlike Snapchat with its disappearing photos.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the app will allow users to record video and then live stream it to their friends on the social network. Although it is still in its early stages and far from a sure thing, it’s easy to see how this might benefit the firm.

Facebook taking several steps to boost user engagement

After all, market researchers GlobalWebIndex reported that photo sharing on Facebook fell from 59 percent in the third quarter of 2014 to just 37 percent in the third quarter of 2015. Many of its users check Facebook several times each day, but there has been a big drop in the numbers sharing status updates about their own lives as well as personal videos and photos.

This camera-first app is in sharp contrast to its flagship mobile app, which opens up to a personalized feed containing status updates, articles and ads and is a lot more focused on consuming content than creating it.

Another step Facebook has taken to encourage engagement is displaying prompts at the top of some news feeds based on people’s interests, locations, or events. “On This Day” allows users to re-live past posts and share them with others, while some users have gained the option to post pre-made collages made up of their recent photographs. Facebook also acquired video sharing app MSQRD, which allows people to create videos with filters and swap faces with other people in the photo.

Facebook doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to promoting its apps. Messenger has seen tremendous success, but its Poke and Slingshot apps were flops. In addition, app downloads in general have been dropping in the past few years. Recently released figures from Comscore show that Americans spend about four fifths of their time on smartphones using just three favorite apps.

Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Writer at Fourth Source.