Date
17 November 2017
Users of tbh anonymously answer kind-hearted multiple-choice questions about friends who then receive the poll results as compliments.The person is then told that he or she is given the compliment, but not by who. Photo: tbh
Users of tbh anonymously answer kind-hearted multiple-choice questions about friends who then receive the poll results as compliments.The person is then told that he or she is given the compliment, but not by who. Photo: tbh

Facebook acquires teen messaging app tbh

Teens aren’t using Facebook like they used to, and Facebook knows that.

So the social network giant has decided to acquire a company that is popular among teens, the positivity-focused polling startup tbh. Facebook will allow it to operate as an independent brand.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but it is said to be less than US$100 million and won’t require any regulatory approval, TechCrunch reports.

An app, tbh is widely used by teens, especially high school students, to send anonymous compliments to each other. It has scored 5 million downloads and 2.5 million daily active users over the past nine weeks.

Users of the app anonymously answer kind-hearted multiple-choice questions about friends who then receive the poll results as compliments. Users are given questions like “Who makes you laugh the hardest?” or “Who has the most integrity?” with a selection of four of their Facebook friends.

The person is then told that he or she is given the compliment, but not by who.

The model promotes pleasant interaction with friends receiving heart-warming messages from people who might be too embarrassed to say the same in person.

Perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t allow users to send anonymous bullying messages or negative remarks, which could be done on other social media platforms.

Users can only answer pre-checked questions, and so tbh keeps the communication positive.

Tbh has racked up more than 1 billion poll answers since its official launch in a limited number of states in the United States in August 2017, the company said in a statement.

Nikita Bier, the co-creator of tbh, told TechCrunch in a recent interview: “If we’re improving the mental health of millions of teens, that’s a success to us.”

“When we met with Facebook, we realized that we shared many of the same core values about connecting people through positive interactions,” the tbh team said in a post announcing the Facebook deal.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook said: “We’re impressed by the way tbh is doing this by using polling and messaging, and with Facebook’s resources tbh can continue to expand and build positive experiences.”

As part of the deal, tbh’s four co-creators – Bier, Erik Hazzard, Kyle Zaragoza and Nicolas Ducdodon – will join Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters while continuing to grow their app with Facebook’s cash, engineering, anti-spam, moderation and localization resources.

TechCrunch quoted Josh Elman, a major tbh investor, as saying: “Nikita and his team have figured out a lot about how teens are using products. Hopefully, this shows that there’s still room to get lots of people adopting new mobile experiences.”

“We think the next milestone is thinking about social platforms in terms of love and positivity,” Bier told TechCrunch. “We think that’s what’s been missing from social products since the inception of the internet.”

Following the latest acquisition, Facebook now owns the second, third, fifth and sixth most downloaded free apps at iOS App Store – Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and tbh.

The fourth is Snapchat, an independent app, while YouTube, a video-sharing platform owned by Alphabet Inc., remains number one.

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BN/RT/CG

EJ Insight writer

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