Facebook is testing a new meme machine to bring back the kids

Facebook's attempts to win back the eyeballs of teenagers aren't slowing down, if new reports are to be believed: the social network is apparently testing a meme-filled feature called LOL with selected users, based around short, shareable video clips.

TechCrunch reported the trial run, which Facebook has since confirmed – the idea is to pack LOL with funny videos and GIF-style loops so that youngsters might be tempted to spend a little bit more time away from Instagram and Snapchat. Content gets pulled from the News Feed and the best meme pages on Facebook, apparently.

For now only around 100 high school students in the US have access to LOL, and they're presumably giving feedback to Facebook engineers as to why this is the best or worst idea in the history of social networking. Facebook says the concept is in its "early stages".

Top marks for persistence

Of course we've been here before. In 2014 Facebook launched Slingshot, a Snapchat clone which has since been abandoned. Then late in 2018 it introduced Lasso, also based around short and shareable video clips, which is apparently still going.

The problem from the perspective of Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow execs is not just that teens are leaving Facebook – Facebook owns Instagram, after all – but that they're sharing content and memes in ways that are difficult to monetize. The short-lived, ephemeral Stories style introduced by Snapchat has become the most popular way to keep in touch.

For now it's not clear if LOL might become part of the Facebook app, arrive as a separate app, or never launch publicly at all. It might even roll into Facebook Watch (Facebook's home for videos and original content, if you've completely missed it).

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.