Facebook adds birthday cam. No need to bother with cards

World's largest social network gives people new way to record video birthday messages. Blowing out the candles will never be the same.

Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Terry Collins
2 min read

Facebook has added a video cam feature that lets friends deliver short but sweet birthday greetings.


Facebook is making it easier to say "Happy Birthday" to the special people in your life.

The world's biggest social network has introduced a "birthday video cam" function that lets you record a video message -- maybe you'll sing that famous song? -- and post it to the timeline of a friend or family member. Facebook says you can complete the process in about as much time as it takes to blow out the candles on birthday cake.

"We wanted to find a new way for close friends to post something fun and as quickly as possible," said Henry Soong, a creative tools product manager at Facebook. The feature is currently available on iOS and will be released on Android soon, he said.

There's no mystery as to why Menlo Park, California-based Facebook is introducing the new function. Birthday greetings are some of the most popular types of posts for its 1.6 billion users. In fact, more than 100 million birthday greetings were sent in January alone, up 60 percent from the same time two years ago.

Birthday celebrations have been part of Facebook's efforts to rope in more users since the early days of the social network.

In 2005, Facebook had birthday celebrations in mind when it created Events as a place its users could plan and organize gatherings, including birthdays. By 2013, Facebook had introduced a birthday notification system and a year later it added a "birthday card" feature that compiles birthday wishes and photos appearing in user timelines.

Facebook came up with the birthday cam concept in order to give users a more creative way to express themselves after noticing that roughly 90 percent of birthday posts offered the same simple message: "Happy Birthday!" Sometimes, the sentiment would be reduced to just "HBD," he added.

"Having [my friends] post 'HBD' on my wall is awesome," Soong said. "But what's better than to actually see someone wishing you 'Happy Birthday?'"