Facebook announced on Monday a slew of new features tailored to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. It is an effort to play into the biggest event in global sports, of course—but it’s also a competitive play against Twitter, which has jumped all-in on sports very recently and inked deals with the four biggest US leagues to live-stream games.
The first two features relate to profile pictures. The first, called Profile Frames, allows you to show the utmost enthusiasm for your country of choice by adding a frame around your profile picture. It puts the country’s flag and the Rio 2016 logo below your photo; it basically looks like a Snapchat filter.
The second feature has to be done through the separate mobile app MSQRD, a face-swapping tool Facebook acquired in March. During the Olympics, if you use the app to share photos or live-broadcast video, the flag of your choice can appear on your face like a mask. The filters will be available starting August 3.
The last feature is the most extensive: From August 1-5, Facebook will serve up an Olympics-related greeting in your News Feed. The greeting gives the option to click through to a page of “dynamic Olympic content” curated by Facebook, personalized to you, including news, “conversations,” live video and more. It will send out the greetings again during the Closing Ceremony on August 21.
It will be interesting to see if users enjoy or even notice the Olympics greeting content. Facebook has been adding more sports features recently, like Sports Stadium, which was billed as a place for live sports chat but is difficult to find and has failed to generate buzz.
Despite Facebook’s efforts, Twitter in many ways, for now, is the apparent leader for live, in-the-moment sports discussion. Its new deals with the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL to live-stream games (the package details differ in each case) will only add to that reputation.
Almost every social platform has been seeking to rack up engagement around the Summer Olympics. NBC and Snapchat, for example, have partnered up to show live “stories” from Rio. But with so many logistical problems on the ground, and a number of big-name athletes dropping out, it’s unclear whether Facebook and Twitter will see as much excitement as they have in the past.
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