Facebook ‘borrows’ from Snapchat for updated Nearby Friends feature

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Facebook faces antitrust investigation.
Facebook wants to get some of that Snapchat cool!
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Facebook is taking another crack at providing a way to help us meet up with friends offline. Having seen its “Facebook Nearby Friends” feature fail to gain much traction, the social media giant is now supposedly planning on a Snapchat-inspired redo to try and change its fortunes.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook is testing a redesign of its “Nearby Friends” that looks a whole lot like Snap Map. This feature will replace the list view of “Nearby Friends” with a map that shows friends grouped according to their city.

“We’re testing a new design for Nearby Friends, a tool people have used for the past four years to meet with their friends in person,” a spokesperson for Facebook told TechCrunch “People have complete control over whether to use Nearby Friends or not. They can turn it on in the Nearby Friends bookmark.”

Appealing to younger users

There’s no news on when the feature might roll out to Facebook users. Snap Map launched last year, providing a new way to interact with users by diving into their geo-tagged Stories. As TechCrunch notes:

“The reason this matters is that Facebook is desperate for engagement, especially amongst younger users who are slipping away from it to Snapchat and Instagram. If revamped with this map and other improvements, Nearby Friends could become a more popular utility that keeps people opening Facebook. Getting more people to share their real-time location could open new opportunities for local ad targeting. And Facebook could benefit from showing it unlocks meaningful offline connections given its recent brand troubles following election interference and calls that it’s the opposite of ‘time well spent.'”

This would be far from the first time that Facebook has emulated Snap in its efforts to engage with younger users. For example, last year it copied Snapchat in jumping on the photo and video-sharing bandwagon with a new camera update adding fun masks and other special effects.

Not all of these copies have been successful, though. In 2017, Facebook shut down Lifestage, a Snapchat clone, less than a year after it had made its debut.

Source: TechCrunch