Facebook Buys TBH, a Teen-Targeted Anonymous Poll App

By Deepa Seetharaman and Katherine Bindley Features Dow Jones Newswires

Facebook Inc., which is trying to make inroads with younger users, said Monday that it bought TBH, an anonymous polling app that has become an overnight sensation among teens.

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Launched less than three months ago, TBH has rapidly gained traction among U.S. teens, a group that analysts say is abandoning Facebook's core social network for services like Snap Inc.'s Snapchat and Facebook-owned Instagram.

A Facebook spokeswoman said TBH, which stands for "To Be Honest," will continue as a standalone app under Facebook. The app's creators will become Facebook employees and continue to oversee the app's expansion. The spokeswoman declined to disclose the price.

The TBH deal is another example of Facebook's willingness to acquire or mimic rival services that pose a threat to its dominance. The social-media company keeps a close eye on potential threats through an internal "early bird" warning system, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.

The app, created by the app development company Midnight Labs, launched on Aug. 3 in the state of Georgia. It quickly rose to the top of the iOS App Store, even though it still hasn't rolled out to all 50 U.S. states.

More than five million people have downloaded TBH and sent more than a billion messages, the app's developers said Monday in a blog post announcing the Facebook deal.

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TBH describes itself as "an app for giving anonymous feedback to friends." Unlike other anonymous apps, TBH says the feedback offered to users is strictly positive.

The app asks users for access to their contacts. TBH also requests details such as users' full names, gender, whether they are in high school or college and their grade or year in school. If a user's friends are using TBH, the polling process can begin -- with the promise that responses are anonymous.

The app goes on to pose a series of prompts, paired with emoji, and the user gets to choose which friend best fits the prompt. Examples include, "Always has their phone ready to catch that important snap," "Always wanted to be friends with them," "Wouldn't mind snuggling up with them during a movie" and simply "Your favorite," with a hands-raised emoji.

Write to Deepa Seetharaman at Deepa.Seetharaman@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 16, 2017 20:14 ET (00:14 GMT)