Facebook Wants More Sharing, Building New Camera App to Drive It

April 28, 2016
By: Steve Anderson

One of the great downsides to having a lot of content in any one place is that, after a while, it starts looking downright pointless to add more. Facebook (News - Alert) is running into that problem, as increasing numbers of users are viewing others' content rather than adding new. In a bid to turn that around, Facebook is working to make it easier to make content for posting with a new camera app some are already comparing to Snapchat.

With the new app, users will be able to record video and stream it directly to Facebook friends. The new app isn't yet available—by some reports it may never actually be available—and it's still in its earliest stages of development. Yet Facebook recognizes one major issue: the numbers of people engaging in photo sharing is dropping off, and that's a position Facebook can't support. Word from GlobalWebIndex said users engaging in photo sharing were at 37 percent in the third quarter of 2015, and that was down from 59 percent in 2014's third quarter.

Building and releasing its own apps hasn't always worked well for Facebook; previous apps Slingshot and Poke didn't make much of an impact on the market. With app downloads in general falling off as mobile saturation approaches its peak and users focusing on a comparative handful of apps, sheer inertia is likely to keep most users from selecting a new app. Even Facebook itself is underscoring this point; it's recently invited businesses to use chatbots on Facebook's Messenger tool as a replacement for the individually-branded app. If Facebook wants to provide a replacement for the branded app, then there's a fair chance the branded app may not even work for Facebook.

There's also a potential backlash against social media in general. With social media being used by potential employers as a cheap and legal background check and using even the most innocuous photos as a reason to disqualify candidates, social media users may be keeping pictures out of the fray altogether lest something posted be later used against them in a job hunt. Even something unexpected—and technically illegal—might color a search; post pictures of your new baby, and employers may think that you'll be too busy, and sleepy, from baby-related tasks to be a good hire. That's going to take a big bite out of Facebook, and its photo sharing numbers.

That's mostly speculative, but it could speak to the declining numbers. Facebook's definitely doing the right thing in trying to address this decline, but it may be doing so the wrong way. A new app may not address concerns about privacy and employment viability sufficiently to inspire said users to come back.