Facebook Buys an App for their Advocacy for Teens to ‘Be Nice’
By Faith Magbanua, October 18, 2017 02:10 AM
TBH, an app that encourages teens to be nice to each other, has been acquired by Facebook for an undisclosed fee.
The app - which means "to be honest" - is just nine weeks old, but had already been downloaded for more than five million times.
According to the creators of the app, they said that it will remain as a standalone program but will now have more resources thanks to Facebook.
"We were compelled by the ways they could help us realize tbh's vision and bring it to more people," tbh said.
According to start-up news site TechCrunch, the deal was for "less than $100m", and tbh's four-person team will now become Facebook employees.
However, one expert commented that Facebook keeps a close eye over new companies and is willing to pay a premium to buy them rather than risk them developing into a threat.
"This is the latest example of Facebook snapping up a start-up that could potentially game-change the way people consume social media and erode its own user base," says Prof Mark Skilton from Warwick Business School.
"Tbh appeals to the teen market - which we know is a very fickle age group - and Facebook knows that it and other apps like it can go viral and explode in popularity very quickly.
"So, this can be seen as a protective measure, and $100m is the equivalent of an account sheet rounding error - it's no money to them."
Furthermore, a statement given by Facebook said: "tbh and Facebook share a common goal of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together.
"We're impressed by the way tbh is doing this by using polling and messaging, and with Facebook's resources tbh can continue to expand and build positive experiences."
Tbh said that the app's success was a sign of teenagers craving more positive interactions online.
"While the last decade of the internet has been focused on open communication, the next milestone will be around meeting people's emotional needs," it said.
The app isn't just a standard messaging app, though. Instead, users are presented with a series of prompts or notifications about their friends like, "Should DJ every party" or "Hotter than the sun" and four options for friends that best fit that description.
TBH is designed for users 13 and up, and permits those who sign up to select their school and grade level. But a user can still use tbh if the person is in college or have already graduated.
The catch about TBH
The name of the app clearly follows a similar trend among teens who use the phrase "tbh" on Instagram to say something nice about their friends. A tbh is used almost like a form of Instagram currency, since you can trade a TBH for a like on one of your photos. Whether or not the app's name was inspired by that, TBH bears a lot of similarities to the trend.
The development of TBH has shown a similarity to Facebook's early growth - where it was only available in a handful of colleges for a short time, the makers of tbh only made the app available to users in certain states. Word of mouth would spread at schools as the app was enabled.
"We shipped it to one school in Georgia," explained co-founder Nikita Bier, speaking to TechCrunch.
"Forty percent of the school downloaded it the first day. The next day it was in three more schools, and then the next day it was in 300 schools."
Meanwhile, Facebook would not provide any more details about the deal, but the firm is clearly eager to snap up the next big thing in its infancy, save it become another competitor like Snapchat.
An investment bank's recent survey of 6,100 US teens suggested that Snapchat was the preferred social media platform for teenagers - the average age of participants was 16.
Facebook reportedly tried to buy Snapchat in 2013 for $3bn. Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, is today worth $19bn.
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