It has been brought into light that the company Facebook, now known as Meta, has been accused by a photo app for copying the app’s features for Meta’s Instagram platform. Though the photo app in question is now no longer in existence, the company behind the app have made the accusations and filled a complaint.
The app which Instagram allegedly copied the features from is called Phhhoto and was developed by three gentleman named Omar Elsayed, Champ Bennett, and Russell Armand in the year 2014 which later got shut down in the year 2017.
The Phhhoto app enables users to have the ability to capture five frames in a single click of the shutter to create short gifs and gif like videos.
The concept came into existence when the three gentlemen were at an Office party in the year 2012 where they decided to create a gif / short video app for the iPad, just for fun.
People at the party appreciated and loved the app and so this product was rented to parties and venues. Though people loved using the app, there was one complaint to start it all. The complaint was based on the idea of this product not being an app. This was the start for developing the Phhhoto app.
Instagram has a similar feature to Phhhoto called “Boomerang” which is very popular in terms of its use. It’s a feature which Meta didn’t come up with on their own but rather ‘took inspiration’ from.
Phhhoto has alleged Meta with the above claim of Boomerang being a copied feature from Phhhoto which is being publicly made known as if Meta created the feature themselves.
Phhhoto also alleged that Meta blocked the Phhhoto app’s API from Instagram, thereby further preventing the app from being able to gain recognition and popularity for what it was developed for, to make way for Instagram’s own Boomerang app.
Phhhoto say: “The actions of Facebook and Instagram destroyed Phhhoto as a viable business and ruined the company’s prospects for investment. Phhhoto failed as a direct result of Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct. But for Facebook’s conduct, Phhhoto was positioned to grow into a social networking giant, similar in size, scope, and shareholder value to other social networking and media companies with which Facebook did not interfere,” in the complaint filed in US District Court on the 4th of November 2021.
The Phhhoto app claimed that it had an active user count of 3.7 million users when the app was initially launched to the market. Big personalities also used the app including names of Beyoncé, Joe Jonas, Chrissy Teigen, and Bella Hadid amongst many more.
In the initial stages of the app’s release to the market, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, and the former CEO of Instagram Kevin Systrom were found to have downloaded the Phhhoto app for themselves and were examining its feature set.
These actions of the two were picked up on by Phhhoto and this was later written in the lawsuit which reads as follows:
“This revelation provided the first link between Facebook’s earlier actions toward Phhhoto (here, cutting off API access) as part of an exclusionary scheme with the algorithmic suppression discovered in late 2017.”
Phhhoto is now looking for monetary damages from Meta, however Meta will defend themselves in court as they claim that the accusations made by Phhhoto are without merit, says a spokesperson from Meta.