Snapchat Zings Facebook With April Fools’ Russian Bot Filter


Snapchat is roasting its longtime rival, Facebook, with a filter rolled out just in time for April Fools’ Day. The filter mocks Facebook’s connection with Russia’s use of the social network to spread false information and interfere with U.S. elections.

The filter, which comes on the heels of Snapchat’s first TV ad (see video below), which also takes a jab at Instagram, puts photos into a Facebook-style frame. The filter defaults to Cyrillic text and artificially limits who can “like” an image or a post, allowing thumbs-up from made-up friends “Your Mom” and “Bot.”

There is a serious conflict between the social networks underlying all of the high jinks. Instagram, which Facebook bought for $1 billion in 2012, has been accused of appropriating some of Snapchat’s key features.

Some 160 million Facebook users viewed and shared Russian misinformation in 2016, it was later revealed. The wave of scrutiny over Facebook’s culpability in the spread of false stories has since been followed by the semi-related Cambridge Analytica outcry. The data research firm was found to have gained access to the personal data of some 50 million-plus Facebook users. That data was then used by political campaigns, including that of President Donald Trump, to try to sway voters, many of whom were also being influenced by bogus news that was filling their Facebook news feeds.

Snapchat is closing in on 200 million U.S. users — a much smaller footprint than Instagram’s, but one that is prized by many marketers because of the youth and avidity of the base.

The April Fools’ filter came a day after Snap Inc.’s introduced its debut TV ad, a spot which takes aim at Facebook’s Instagram, though not by name. “Snapchat is a camera,” the ad’s narration begins, and the 60-second ad returns often to that theme.

Here’s a look at the Snapchat TV ad:

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