clock menu more-arrow no yes

Facebook wants to know why teens are using group video app Houseparty

The social giant issued a survey earlier this year trying to figure out why teens use group video apps. Could it clone the app?

Three teens in a room, each looking at his or her phone Ute Grabowsky / Photothek via Getty Images

Are you a teenager who uses the group video chat app, Houseparty? Facebook wants to know!

At least Facebook did want to know back in February, and was willing to pay people for their thoughts on the app, which lets users jump in and out of video conversations with friends (or friends of friends).

Screenshots from Facebook’s survey earlier this year.
Facebook

Facebook circulated a survey a few months back that asked, among other things, for responders to share their “most recent experience” using Houseparty or Fam, a separate app which self-describes as “group Facetime” for iPhone users.

Facebook issued the survey to find teenagers who would come to Facebook headquarters to participate in a study about “texting and messaging apps,” including Houseparty. They offered participants $275 in Amazon gift cards to participate.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the survey was legit, and was part of the company’s “ongoing effort to better understand how different groups of people use different technology products, including video messaging.” Facebook runs these studies “all the time,” she added.

The survey was issued just a few months after reports that Houseparty raised $50 million in new venture funding.

Facebook

While it’s clear Facebook is taking an interest in group video apps, it’s unclear what they plan to do about it. Facebook has a history of copying trends that seem to be on the rise, especially among teenagers.

You may remember it tried to copy Snapchat’s disappearing messages concept on multiple occasions back when the app was still young, and when anonymous messaging apps like Secret and Whisper were on the rise, Facebook rolled out an anonymous chat app of its own called Rooms.

The folks behind Houseparty know this well. Before Houseparty existed, the company’s main product was a live video streaming app called Meerkat.

CEO Ben Rubin basically threw in the towel on live video broadcasting in part because Facebook’s live video efforts were starting to pick up and Twitter had recently bought a rival service, Periscope.

So it’s possible that a survey like this means Facebook is preparing to get into group video calls — it already offers group video on Messenger, but not in the same jump-in, jump-out kind of way that Houseparty allows.

It’s also possible that Facebook could look to make an acquisition in this space, though the company tends to start with a build-versus-buy mentality when it comes to new consumer features.

It’s even possible this survey means little, and that Facebook learned that it doesn’t care about group video chats after all. (If you know more about this, please reach out!)

When we asked Houseparty about the survey, a spokesperson thanked Facebook for doing the research and said, “We’re looking forward to seeing the results!”

We also asked Houseparty if they’ve met with Facebook, and the same spokesperson replied the two companies have “had a few friendly chats about the future of live video,” though didn’t elaborate further.

Facebook, on the other hand, says it doesn’t plan to share any of the results from its study and declined to say whether or not it was still ongoing or if the results were influencing Facebook’s products.

Facebook didn’t immediately get back to a question about meeting with Houseparty, though it’s common for big tech companies to bring in startups to vet them, but also just to learn what they’re building.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

Sign up for the newsletter The Weeds

Understand how policy impacts people. Delivered Fridays.