Gunning after Twitter

Facebook continues its fight for second-screen dominance

Facebook is working on new tools meant to encourage people to discuss the latest TV shows, breaking news, and live events on its service instead of Twitter. How? By making it easier for them to see their musings during broadcasts, making exclusive stickers for certain events, and becoming a polling service through which people can share some of their opinions with TV programmers.

The tools are part of the social network’s long battle to become the premier “second screen” service used whenever something interesting’s on television. (Seriously, these efforts have been ongoing since at least 2014, when the company worked with Fox to promote its apps during that year’s Super Bowl.) Facebook just isn’t content to let all the frenzied chirping happen on Twitter. And on top of that, the TV ad industry’s annual budget is something Facebook wants a chunk of as traditional commercials lose effectiveness.

Not that Facebook wants people to think it’s desperate.

“We highlighted one relevant study on our Facebook for Business blog which found that 85 percent of people who reported visiting a social network while watching TV said they visited Facebook,” its partner engineering director, Bob Morgan, said in today’s announcement. “Our own researchers discovered that Facebook usage peaks in primetime, in every country, and that the maximum daily Facebook audience occurs during maximum TV viewing.” See? Facebook’s already doing great!

But the company isn’t going to be happy until its services pervade every form of media. It wants text to be read via Instant Articles, videos to be watched through its native video player, and photos to be shared via Instagram. Then it wants all those forms of media to be scooped up from those services and shared via traditional outlets to create some kind of perpetual Facebook mechanism.

This is what that process could be like: Someone watches something on the television, so they use a custom sticker to share their thoughts with the world. Then they see that opinion on their television set, so they keep watch to see if other people’s opinions will be shared the same way. While that’s happening broadcasters can ask for viewers’ opinions through quick polls and surveys.

People would never have to leave Facebook — or the couch. Why use another application when anything you could ever want is right in Facebook’s? Want to read? Go for it! Wanna watch something? You can do that, too. Want something to do while something on the television plays in the background? Don’t worry, there’s something you can do for that, too. It’ll be all Facebook, all the time.

That might seem like a dystopian future to some, but Facebook probably just views it as a money-printing machine. This is why it keeps going after Twitter. Every tweet sent, every hashtag typed out, is a threat to Facebook’s dominance. So it’ll keep introducing features like this until people forget that they could ever share their thoughts somewhere else. All it has to do is kill that pesky bird.