Facebook buys selfie face-swap app Masquerade

Masquerade app Image copyright Masquerade
Image caption Masquerade filters let people dramatically change their appearance

Facebook has bought photo-editing app Masquerade, which lets people change their appearance in real-time.

The app can transform faces - often in a cartoon-like fashion - and overlay make-up, animal features or accessories on live video.

Masquerade's filters have been compared to those in rival Snapchat, which Facebook tried to buy in 2013.

One expert said Facebook was responding to competition from Snapchat, which streams millions of videos daily.

Image copyright Masquerade
Image caption Masquerade can replace your face with a celebrity or a cartoon

Face-changing apps gained popularity after instant messaging app Snapchat added live filters called lenses in 2015.

The face-swap filter, which switches two people's faces with often alarming results, has become a particular favourite on social media.

"I think Facebook has realised Snapchat has something it doesn't," said David Wilkinson, managing partner at digital consultancy Soho Strategy.

"A lot of people share filtered selfie videos, so I think we can expect to see this integrated into Facebook's Messenger platform.

"Snapchat has its own USP as an ephemeral messaging platform, but for the novelty factor people might just use Facebook's built-in filters."

In 2013, Facebook tried to take over Snapchat for $3bn, but the instant messaging firm rejected the offer, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Facebook has not disclosed how much it has paid for Belarus-based Masquerade, but said it would keep the app running as a standalone program, as well as integrating features with its social network.

"Masquerade has great technology to help us bring even more creative tools to Facebook, and help extend this work to video," the company said in a statement.

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