Facebook Walks Away From Politics, Bets on Music to Regain Trust

By Chloe Anagnos

Facebook has rolled out its new video app, Lasso, without much fuss. The idea is to compete with 2018’s app of the year, TikTok, which was also released without much flurry and quickly became one of the most popular apps among young internet users.

With Lasso, Facebook hopes to draw teenage users back to the social media site. And it might just do that, as Facebook’s new app has something that TikTok users may find particularly enticing: a truly impressive music catalog.

Lasso allows consumers to use the company’s “massive music library” to share 15-second “short-form, entertaining videos.” Given the deals between major record labels and publishers, Silicon Valley’s giant offers users a clear advantage as they can take advantage of popular songs without fear of being shut down.

In addition, Lasso users may also share their creations on both Instagram and Facebook, making the app instrumental in bringing the young crowd to the platforms.

With only half of people aged 13 to 17 in America using Facebook today, Lasso’s launch may be seen as an ingenious way of gaining their trust, something the tech firm has repeatedly lost in recent years.

Whether it’s Facebook’s willingness to participate in the federal government’s spying programs or its data-harvesting scandals, the platform has encountered many problems in keeping the public faithful to its service. But by betting on a new feature that combines video and music, the platform may have just found the perfect way to hook the young audience once again. After all, U.S. teens don’t seem too concerned about third-party organizations having access to their data.

So while Facebook executives say Lasso is meant to open up “more options for creativity and sharing memories with friends and family,” it’s clear the feature is targeting the very audience that no longer sees the platform as a fun, interesting place to be.

Branching Out Could Save Facebook

Facebook’s mission of creating communities and connecting people in positive, constructive ways has never seemed to bode well with the firm’s notoriously misleading policies, especially when it comes to how it deals with advertisers.

In the past, the Silicon Valley giant lied about its video reach and how it cooperated with the top U.S. spying agency. But despite these scandals, the company remains a popular social media platform, albeit one vulnerable to serious competition.

Seeing the dangers it faced, Facebook appeared more than eager to offer Congress a hand in regulating the industry. To a giant in the field, regulation comes as an opportunity as it helps to keep potential competitors at bay. But waiting until Washington is ready to regulate social media was not enough for the tech giant. That’s where Lasso comes in, as a means to bring young users back to Facebook.

As Forbes explained, trying its hand at music might just be the safest way of getting people to connect on the social platform once again. After all, following the contentious 2016 presidential election season, Americans seem to be more divided ideologically than ever before. But when it comes to music, the dynamic changes dramatically.

By betting on improving the user experience and not on maintaining a space for political debate, Facebook might be trying to move away from its own political issues as the tech giant has long been accused of being biased against right-leaning groups.

With an incredible music library at its disposal, Facebook has what it takes to bring a score of new and former users to its platform. But will that alone guarantee that the platform will become less toxic and more concerned with bringing people together, as its mission statement claims? Only time will tell.

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Chloe Anagnos

Chloe Anagnos is AIER's Publications Manager. She is a writer and digital marketer and has been an AIER contributor since 2017. Her work has been the subject of articles in FOX News, USA Today, CNN Money, and WIRED. She has been a writer, commentator, and panelist for media outlets around the country on subjects like political marketing, campaigning, and social media. Follow @ChloeAnagnos.