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Facebook is testing Snapchat-like features in its main app

They include new camera filters like masks and other animations, plus messages that eventually disappear.


Facebook is testing photo and video filters similar to Snapchat.


Facebook may be getting Snapchattier.

The social network on Thursday began testing new camera and messaging features that look and feel similar to staples of Snapchat, the social network's trendy rival, beloved by teens and young adults.

The new features include digital masks, which uses software to superimpose an image onto your face, similar to Snapchat lenses. There are other digital images you can add to the frame, too, like hearts or bubbles. Another type of filter reanimates a scene in the style of a famous artist, like Vincent Van Gogh or Georgia O'Keefe. Facebook Product Chief Chris Cox demoed the feature at a conference earlier this week.

Another new feature, called Direct, lets you share those images and videos just with individual friends or groups of friends. If you and your friends stop commenting on an image or video, it disappears. You also only have 24 hours to replay a picture or video from the first time you opened it, a Facebook spokeswoman said.

Right now, the testing is only being done in Ireland.

Facebook hasn't been shy about copying Snapchat features. Instagram cribbed its rival's popular Stories product, and Facebook has in the past tried to build separate apps that were Snapchat clones. But this is the first time Snapchat-like features will be placed so prominently in Facebook's flagship app. There will be a new camera icon at the top left corner of the News Feed, or you can just swipe right to open the camera. You'll be able to see these photo and video messages in a new inbox, separate from your other Facebook messages.

This is only Facebook's latest attempt to try to neutralize Snapchat's threat. The 5-year-old app, which Facebook reportedly tried to buy for at least $3 billion in 2013, is rumored to be headed toward a $4 billion IPO in March.

The new mask features were likely made possible by technology Facebook acquired when it bought the startup MSQRD in March. On Thursday, Facebook unveiled Halloween-themed mask filters for Facebook Live, its video live streaming service. The company said a selection of masks will remain available in Live permanently, even after Halloween.