Facebook is trying to woo younger users with a new meme generator app called Whale, which was quietly released last week in Canada.
Whale had a stealth launch and is currently only available from the Canadian App Store. It’s not immediately obvious if Facebook will launch the app internationally.
Facebook’s origin story is well-known. Mark Zuckerberg, a lanky but brilliant student at Harvard University, built the first incarnation of the social networking site within his Kirkland House dorm room. At first, only university students could join, but over time, Facebook lowered the drawbridge to other people.
Now, everyone’s on it. In the U.S., people over the age of 65 represent 11.7% of the user-base. Meanwhile, younger users are engaging less with Facebook, instead preferring to spend time on TikTok and Facebook-owned Instagram.
Will Whale reverse that trend, stemming the flow of Generation Z from Facebook to pastures anew? Probably not, but that’s arguably not the point.
It’s not the first time that Facebook has released apps or features to small groups of users. The strategy allows the company to gauge interest without throwing its weight behind a wider public release that might ultimately fail, causing embarrassment for the company.
One of the best examples of this is Bonfire, Facebook’s short-lived Houseparty clone. In 2017, Facebook launched the app exclusively in Denmark, and it was discontinued earlier this year. The Information also notes Facebook’s Bump and Aux apps, which both came from the same secretive unit within Facebook that conceived Whale.
You could argue that Facebook is once again acting like a startup, creating minimum viable products in order to validate the appetite for a concept. The renewed culture of experimentation will ensure Facebook is well-placed to fight its fast-growing rivals.
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H/T the Information