Facebook, a company that makes billions of dollars by keeping us all mindlessly addicted to its social apps, has a clever way of figuring out what to build next. The social networking giant reportedly has an internal system that tracks the success of up-and-coming apps to help it decide which ideas to copy from smaller startups and other companies, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. This “early bird” warning system reportedly utilizes mobile usage analytics technology from Onavo, an Israeli startup Facebook acquired in 2013. Onavo’s app uses a technique that routes people’s mobile usage through a third party server for privacy purposes, but it also “gives Facebook an unusually detailed look at what users collectively do on their phones,” according to the report.
So Facebook literally has a spying tool that allows it to examine users’ mobile online habits when they sign up for it https://t.co/Yfj11Npnfh
— Christopher Mims???? (@mims) August 10, 2017
Facebook allegedly used tactics like these to monitor a group video chat called Houseparty, which appears to have influenced Facebook’s decision to launch a remarkably similar group video feature in Messenger. In what must be an especially painful twist, Houseparty was built by the creators of Meerkat, whose once-hot livestreaming video app was swiftly mimicked by Twitter’s 2015 launch of Periscope. Damn.