Facefeed, which launched yesterday for iOS, is a sort of combination of Tinder and ChatRoulette, but with an added ranking system that makes it oddly mean. It's a simple idea--you take a selfie and look at other people's selfies and choose to talk to them based on said selfie, if you want--but the more people choose to chat with you, the higher your ranking gets. And the ranking is right up front. Best selfie wins! Worst selfie cries.
Ben Cera, creator of Now (a cool localized Instagram plugin that we wrote about last year), is behind the app. When you first start using it, you take a selfie. That's what other people see--in fact, that's the only thing people will see about you. There's no profile, no self-description, no place for likes or tags or other photos. You can look through the selfies of strangers, and message them if you want. Those messages then show up in your inbox. "In real life," Cera wrote in an email, "people get popular when a lot of people talk to them. In a similar fashion, in Facefeed your score goes up by a good amount every time someone talks to you, and also increases when you’re being social and saying hi to people."
"It’s meant to connect you to people around you and make it a lot easier to start face-to-face conversations than in real life," Cera wrote. "It tries to mimic real life in many ways: you only see faces of people (no name, age, info, etc.), and you decide who you want to go talk to. When you say hi, you show your face." It's not a dating app, Cera says, although just because an app isn't designed to be a dating app doesn't mean it won't be used as one (see: Whisper). Wrote Ben:
I began thinking about how people crave talking/meeting new people and how there is a hole in social apps for people to do this on their own time and in a visual messaging format. Currently, people use platforms to talk/meet new people in private chat rooms, where they hide behind a computer screen, or on more social platforms, where the person is represented by their profile picture (which is not the most true, recent version of ourselves). I wanted to build a place where people could just have fun, be themselves and show their most recent face to meet other people in an engaging way.
It's certainly more casual and goofy than something like a dating app, which lends itself to the kind of studied virtual-persona-crafting that often dominates. It'll be harder to do that with Facefeed, because you have to take a new picture each time you use it, but the ranking system will also encourage users to try as hard as possible to take the perfect pic. Whether it really is, as Ben repeatedly stated over email, "like a giant party," remains to be seen, I suppose.