Is Facebook’s new app an accidental April Fools’ Day joke?

Facebook's latest spin-off app is not a joke, probably... maybe.

 

Taylor Hatmaker

Tech

Published Apr 1, 2015   Updated May 29, 2021, 4:27 am CDT

Facebook is taking plenty of heat on April Fools’ Day, but that didn’t slow the social giant down from releasing a brand new social app, totally in earnest. Well, we think it was in earnest, anyway. Facebook’s newest app—named “Riff,” in an apparently not ironic turn—debuted in what seemed like a real enough blog post but has since been pulled from the U.S. App Store (you can try to download it from iTunes here).

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Naturally, for those of us following along at home, that’s resulted in a bit of confusion.

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Facebook’s Riff is an after-hours project thrown together by Josh Miller, the Branch founder who crafted Rooms, another social app out of Facebook Creative Labs. The app invites users to make collaborative social videos around topics, like #selfies or, might we suggest, #frenchbulldogs.

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Historically, Facebook is somewhat notorious for, shall we say, “riffing” on the ideas of already established social companies for many of its products trying to capitalize on fleeting social trends (see: On This Day/Timehop, Poke/Yo, Slingshot/Snapchat, Places/Foursquare and uh, probably a lot of other stuff I forgot). But with a market cap of well over $200 billion and a veritable armada of lawyers, who needs to worry about “new ideas” or “intellectual property,” really?

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Remarkably, Riff, like Rooms, does seem to be a fairly original idea, though an App Store search for “Riff” brings up an already established social music app that probably isn’t too happy about this whole thing. Back when Facebook launched Paper, a news reader app, the company stomped over a well-loved illustration app by the same name. Paper put up a fight, but, well, no one wins against the towering Facebook megalith. Not for long anyway. 

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Riff actually looks pretty fun, but assuming it isn’t a joke, is Facebook really that oblivious to its own reputation? Riff, really?

Screenshots via Facebook

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*First Published: Apr 1, 2015, 4:31 pm CDT