In October 2017, Facebook acquired TBH–an anonymous social media app popular in the high schools of the United States. About one year after the acquisition, Facebook decided to discontinue the app due to its low usage; the app was once attracting 2.5 million teens daily.
But, prior to ditching the app and focusing on its own money-printing applications, Facebook learned a carefully strategized strategy focused on the high school teenagers.
As per an internal Facebook document obtained by BuzzFeed News, TBH explained their homegrown and tried-and-tested method used to target teens to download the addictive polling app on their smartphones.
It can be said with certainty that the blue social network, before shutting down the TBH, learned how to hone their targeting methods and improve their own polling features.
Mentioned specifically as “a psychological trick,” the method involved a combination of “a combination of scraping Instagram for high schoolers’ accounts, playing to youthful curiosity, and taking advantage of class dismissal hours.”
The TBH’s founders clearly mentioned that the purpose of sharing their ways is to help in Facebook’s own product development process and unreleased features.
What TBH actually did was that they visited the Instagram accounts of teens and got the public information of their high schools and eventually followed all the related accounts. Since TBH’s account was private and coupled with a curiosity-filled call to action like “You’ll be invited to the new app,” the teens would try to follow the private account.
Now, at 4:00 PM when school got over, TBH would add their app download link to the profile and make the private account public. Now Instagram would notify the students that their request had been accepted and they’d end up downloading the app.
TBH advised their Facebook colleagues to use lesser shady tactics like requesting targeted push notification permissions around the launch of a new app or feature by collecting the interests of the users.
You can read the complete memo in Buzzfeed’s report.