Social media giant Facebook has bought a popular app Masquerade for an undisclosed sum that lets users put masks and effects on their selfies and share them on social networks.
The move can escalate its rivalry with Snapchat which it tried to buy in 2013 for $3 billion, tech website CNET reported.
The purchase of the Belarus-based app will add to Facebook’s list of creative tools a whole new set of stickers, text on photos and finger doodles.
Facebook said it is acquiring Masquerade — a startup founded last year that overlays silly and cartoonish images, like an Iron Man helmet or a gorilla face, on people’s faces as they shoot video.
A Facebook spokeswoman said Masquerade had “world-class imaging technology for video.”
Masquerade’s effects are similar to Snapchat’s filters. Although Snapchat’s audience is smaller than Facebook’s, its influence has grown in the past year because of partnerships with media companies, sports leagues and other purveyors of live events.
According to SensorTower, a San Francisco-based app analytics tracker, Masquerade has quickly become a top mobile app and has been downloaded about 12.6 million times since it launched in December.
Masquerade said in a blog post that the startup has “worked hard to make video more fun and engaging by creating filters that enhance and alter your appearance.”
“Within Facebook, we’re going to be able to reach people at a scale like never before,” the post said, adding “This is a scale of audience we never imagined was possible.”