Last week, Facebook quietly released a new meme-making app called Whale, The Information reports. The app is currently only available on the Canadian App Store, where its listing says it can be used to edit your own photos or images from a library of stock photos. You can then share your creations on social media platforms such as Instagram and Messenger.
The app’s listing confirms that it’s been developed by Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team, which was set up earlier this year to develop new experimental apps for the social media giant. At the time, Facebook said it was using the separate brand name to set the expectation that its apps could change rapidly, or even shut down if the company finds that they’re not useful for people. NPE is also credited with releasing two other apps called Bump and Aux. A Facebook spokesperson told The Information that the apps are intended to help the company discover new features and services that people like.
Facebook’s experiments with new apps comes amidst the meteoric rise of TikTok, the video-focused social media platform popular with younger users. In the past two and a half years after its launch outside of China, TikTok has become a popular source of memes that have gone on to spread through other social media services. So far this year, the ByteDance-owned app has added more than 500 million users, and is on its way to having 1.5 billion users in total. However, there were signs this month that it’s growth is starting to slow.
TikTok’s rise has not been without criticism. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has raised concerns over the app’s censorship of criticism of the Chinese government. US lawmakers are also investigating TikTok-owner ByteDance’s links to Beijing.
Whale joins a long list of experimental apps that have either been launched or bought by Facebook over the years including Moments, Notify, Lifestage, Poke, Slingshot, Tbh, Moves, and Hello. Given Facebook’s track record, we’d recommend not getting too attached to its latest experiment.