Facebook is still losing teens to mobile messaging apps

If you’re a daring, unruly malcontent of a teen, the last place you want to be these days is on Facebook.

As much as Zuckerberg probably hates to admit it, Facebook is now the Establishment of social networks, and for kids, that’s reason enough to stay away from it.

Enter apps like Kik, SnapChat, and WhatsApp, which you can use communicate quickly and secretly in ways that Facebook has so far been unable to. For teens, the apps represent freedom from Facebook, which, as Reuters reports, could be real a threat to Facebook itself.

The situation ties into the larger problem facing Facebook right now: While it’s obviously dominating social on the desktop, its success in the mobile world is less definitive. Facebook doesn’t have the sector locked down, which is opening up opportunities for smaller apps like SnapChat to carve out their own niches.

Facebook’s counter to has so far been acquisitions. When it purchased Instagram  last year, it was acknowledging that Instagram had become a large enough social threat that it had to be destroyed — or in this case, bought. Facebook pulled a similar move in 2011 when it bought group messaging app Beluga, which eventually became the backbone for Facebook’s messenger.

Facebook’s other reactions have been less successful. Poke, its SnapChat copycat, never quite made sense, nor did it take off. And we’ll forgive you if you can’t remember what Camera is.

All of this, of course, ties in with Facebook’s event later this week, when it’s rumored to announce both a custom phone and “Facebook Home,” its own custom fork of Android. Judging by what we’ve seen so far, Home could be Facebook’s attempt to pull all of its apps — Poke, Messenger, Camera — under one roof.

That, in theory, should help it leverage some control over mobile users, which is exactly what it needs right now.

Photo: Scott Macklin/Flickr


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