The “Facebook isn’t cool anymore” mantra is moving from myth to reality when it comes to younger users, and the world’s top social network is refusing to sit tight and wait for next year’s results before taking action.
In 2014, users between the ages of 13 and 17 left Facebook at a clip of 25.3 percent over the course of three years. From 2015 to 2016, that age group continued to decline within the social network’s user share, from 16.7 percent to 16.4 percent. With its new app Lifestage, which recalls the site’s initial model from its 2004 founding and takes hints from Snapchat and other modern sharing tools, Facebook aims to improve these numbers and build a stronger base when it comes to teenagers.
Lifestage, which is only available for iOS devices at the moment, describes itself on the App Store as the social network that “makes it easy and fun to share a visual profile of who you are with your school network. Simply capture into a field on your profile, then post it on your profile. Once your school is unlocked, you can access the profiles of others in your school community (and all over!) so you can get to know people better in your school and nearby schools, discover others who are into the same stuff you are, and connect with them.”
The app essentially lets users post status updates via video, and direct friends to their other social pages for direct messaging through “Reach Me” notes on their accounts. Lifestage limits its users to 21 and younger, aimed at letting students get to know their classmates. Privacy-wise, the app makes it easy to report and block other users with a quick swipe.
When signing up, you don’t have to connect your Facebook account — simply select your school and you can view the profiles of classmates or at schools nearby. To unlock the feature to view others are your school, the Lifestage first requires 20 users to sign up at an individual school.
While Lifestage might provide a nice video-focused outlet for students to socialize with their friends, it’d be ignorant to assume this is Facebook’s goal in the long run. The app’s purpose could easily be for Facebook to use it as a testing area to study the video-sharing habits of younger users on a video-first platform, to perhaps later integrate some of its features into Facebook itself.