With older generations turning away from Facebook after a litany of fake news, privacy and security-related debacles, Facebook has renewed its efforts to capture and monetise the memes of teens in hopes of raking in future revenue streams. So following in the footsteps of Lasso, Lifestage and Slingshot comes LOL, which might be Facebook’s most doomed app yet.
Discovered by TechCrunch while still in private beta featuring around 100 high school student testers (who agreed to NDAs with parental consent), LOL appears to be a desperate attempt to centralise the amusing gifs, videos and memes teens share on other networks or through disappearing formats such as Stories. (Facebook confirmed it was testing LOL to TechCrunch.)
Based on screenshots sent to TechCrunch, memes are categorised into a range of collections such as “Dailies” and “Look Mom No Hands”, with additional loathe-inducing filters such as “Wait For It” and “Savage”. And in a classic Facebook-style move, there’s also a “For You” section that attempts to rustle a kids’ jimmies by using an algorithm to pick specific memes to suit their tastes.
If that wasn’t bad enough, it also seems that users are given the option to react to each meme with buttons labelled “Funny”, “Alright” or “Not Funny”, along with obligatory share and upload tools to help spread the entertainment.
However, in case it wasn’t clear enough by this point, sources that spoke to TechCrunch said the whole app still feels “cringey” thanks to a combination of stale, weeks-old memes and a whiff of tryhard hipness.
But LOL’s biggest misstep might be trying to focus group a meme app in the same way you would a blockbuster movie. Memes are born from the shitposts of millions of people, so any attempt to jump-start a meme revolution with 100 or even 1000 students is born to fail, especially when they are forced out by Facebook.