Facebook confirmed yesterday that it has bought filters app Masquerade in a move that brings its rivalry with Snapchat to the next level. The Belarus-based Masquerade, which is often stylized as MSQRD, is a free standalone smartphone app that offers photo and video effects that are similar to Snapchat’s filters.

Masquerade said in a blog post on its official website that the move will bring them a bigger audience than they ever imagined with Facebook’s nearly 1.6 billion users. They assured users that the app will continue to run while the Facebook integration takes place and promised that a string of new features are in store.

Masquerade is one of the App Store’s most popular apps. It has been downloaded more than 12 million times since its December launch. It allows users to add fun, animated filters to their faces using their smartphone’s “selfie” camera. It can be used to create photos to share with others or even record videos with filters in place. For example, users can transform themselves into Leonardo DiCaprio and record themselves giving an acceptance speech.

Masquerade’s face-swapping filters are expected to show up in the Facebook app soon. They will join other creative tools Facebook already offers such as finger doodles, stickers, and other filters. The firm also plans to continue operating Masquerade as a standalone app, which means interested parties won’t need a Facebook account to use it.

Competition between messaging apps fiercer than ever

Facebook is currently the king of the messaging app world with Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. Nevertheless, Snapchat has been enjoying huge popularity among younger users with its disappearing messages.

Facebook has had some trouble gaining a strong foothold in the under-25 crowd, and its acquisitions of Instagram and now Masquerade are aimed at pulling in younger users.

Facebook once made a $3bn play for Snapchat, and when that failed, they created their own versions of some of Snapchat’s most popular features. Both services claim to have more than 8 billion video views each day.

Snapchat’s filters and lenses have been so popular that they started charging for some of them last year. Although Snapchat only has 100 million daily users versus Facebook’s 1 billion, its partnerships with sports leagues, media companies and other entities have seen its popularity soar. A Pew Research survey showed last April that Snapchat ranked as the third most-used app by people aged 13 to 17. Facebook was first.

The price of the deal has not been disclosed. The app’s founders, Eugene Nevgen, Eugene Zatepyakin, and Sergey Gonchar, will work out of Facebook’s office in London.

Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Writer at Fourth Source.