Facebook has quietly released an app called Lasso that lets users create fun, short videos designed to compete with TikTok, the viral 15-second video app that recently merged with Musical.ly. Lasso is Facebook’s latest bid to win over teens, which the large social media platform has lost its hold over. In 2018, only half of teens say they still use Facebook, compared to in 2014, when 71 percent of them said they did. The app was first reported as in development in late October.
On Lasso, users can record themselves dancing and lip-syncing to music, similar to what they can already do on TikTok. The app also lets users record short clips like Vines. It’s available on iOS and Android. Facebook told The Verge: “Lasso is a new standalone app for short-form, entertaining videos — from comedy to beauty to fitness and more. We’re excited about the potential here, and we’ll be gathering feedback from people and creators.”
You can sign in to Lasso through Instagram or create an account using Facebook. You’ll have to authorize the app to allow access to your profile page, photos, and videos. After that’s set up, you’re free to scroll through tons of short videos that autoplay as you pass by them. Hashtags are displayed prominently on the bottom, and like other social media platforms, you can also filter content with tags. So far, you’re able to share Lasso videos as Facebook stories, with the feature to share them as Instagram stories to come later. You’re also unable to make your profile private.
When I logged on, I saw a dude in a beanie doing jump rope tricks to “Psycho” by Post Malone. In another video, two women danced along skillfully to “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran. Finally, in an impressive athletic display, six men performed flips over a woman who’s doing an upside-down split to “I Like It” by Cardi B, before she performs an impressive flip.
There’s already a wealth of content on Lasso, similar to what was already on Facebook Watch during its initial launch, indicating that Facebook probably opened the app up to a community of beta users before today. Still, like Facebook Watch, Lasso might be a couple of years late. Bytedance’s TikTok, which is known as Douyin in China, has been around since 2016.
Facebook has been oddly quiet about Lasso’s launch, with no official statement on its website. It was only on Twitter that Facebook product manager Andy Huang announced the app’s release, and later Bowen Pan, the product manager for Lasso specifically, tweeted about it.