Instagram copies Snapchat’s selfie masks, as Facebook and Messenger already have

Instagram has copied Snapchat’s _____ feature that _________. On Instagram, the feature is called ______.

(Sorry, I forgot to fill in my template for articles about Instagram copying Snapchat.)

Instagram has copied Snapchat’s lens feature that applies augmented-reality masks to people’s faces. On Instagram, the feature is called face filters.

Instagram, not Snapchat.

This is the latest example of Instagram’s parent company, Facebook Inc., using Snapchat as an R&D lab. Instagram alone has already copied Stories and expiring private messages, as well as some more minor features from Snapchat, whose daily audience is less than half the size of Instagram’s. And both Facebook and Facebook Messenger had already copied Snapchat’s selfie masks.

More than likely, Instagram will also copy Snapchat’s money-making scheme for its selfie masks by pitching sponsored versions to advertisers; the app has already added between-Story ads like Snapchat. An Instagram spokesperson said the company has no plans at the moment to roll out sponsored versions of face filters or to enable outside developers to distribute face filters on Instagram, though they can distribute selfie masks on Facebook using Facebook’s AR Studio.

Instagram has also copied a couple of minor features from Snapchat: the option to edit videos to play backward and the ability to erase parts of drawings made atop photos or videos.

Instagram did add a new feature that’s not available on Snapchat: hashtags (a feature that Instagram had copied from Twitter years ago). People can add hashtags to their photos and videos, and viewers can tap on a hashtag to see related posts that use the hashtag.

About The Author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.