clock menu more-arrow no yes

It’s getting harder and harder to tell Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter apart

Social apps are all starting to look the same.

The Festive Season Begins At Dreamlands In Margate Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

The world’s most popular social apps are starting to look a little ... similar.

As companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snap have evolved, they’ve started to borrow product ideas from each other in the hope of building an all-in-one experience.

These networks are ad-supported, which means the more time users spend inside their app, the more money the companies can make.

Copying features that are popular with competitors is one way to try and increase time spent, which explains why we’ve seen so much of it recently.

The result, though, has been a rather uninspiring race to the middle. Each app is losing its unique identity in favor of features you can find inside numerous competitors.

Facebook is the worst offender here — it copied Snapchat’s signature Stories feature into four separate apps over the past nine months. Snapchat, meanwhile, is the most obvious victim on this list.

We mapped out a few of the most-imitated features below, and the companies that are copying them, though there are plenty of others that didn’t make the list:

At the center of the diagram, unsurprisingly, is Facebook and its mini-me, Instagram. Even traditional messaging services, like Messenger and WhatsApp, seem to be headed in the more traditional social direction. (Note: They are both owned by Facebook.)

It’s possible this convergence means there is room for unique social apps to crop up and succeed, like Houseparty and its group-video feature, or Musical.ly and its user-generated music videos.

More likely: The bigger players will wait these little guys out to see what works and which apps are stealing their time, and then make a move to acquire their company or steal their idea.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.