Facebook new video app gives you a new way to Riff with friends

Video sharing has become the newest battleground in the social network wars. Facebook new tool lets your friends add to the videos you create.

Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read


Ok, the topic is #humpday: Make a video!

That's the gist of Facebook's newest app, called Riff, which encourages people to upload videos, tag them with a topic and then invite friends to respond and add content. People can create any topic they want from "#shakeitoff" to "game face."

"Our hunch was that if you could make videos collaboratively, the creative process would be more fun," Josh Miller, a project manager at Facebook, wrote in a statement announcing the new app Wednesday. Facebook's goal is to get people to upload even more to the social network than they already are and, by extension, attract more advertisers.

But Riff isn't the first video app for social. There's also Twitter's Vine, Snapchat and Raptr's Plays.TV, which targets gamers wanting to share videos of their most cherished moments at play. Riff has the added benefit of already being connected to Facebook's user base of 1.2 billion people -- about one-seventh the world's population -- who log on to the site from a mobile phone each month.

The app is the latest from Facebook's Creative Labs group. Others include Slingshot, which lets people share photos or short videos, similar to rival Snapchat; and Rooms, a group messaging service where people can easily and anonymously chat from their mobile phones.

Riff in particular could encourage viral videos like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which swept the Internet last year, encouraging people to dunk ice water on their heads and then nominate friends to do the same. Facebook said 440 million people on its site ultimately watched these videos 10 billion times. Facebook clearly hopes to repeat that type of success.

Riff is available for devices powered by Google's Android, as well as Apple's iOS, starting Wednesday.