There’s a new app, and when isn’t there? This one is called E.gg, and it looks like a mix of Tumblr and GeoCities: The “About” page features a dancing-baby GIF, against a background of a starry night sky, with text in deliberately nauseating shades of highlighter yellow and green. It calls out the “raw and exploratory spirit” of the “Early Internet,” and reminisces about the days of “manically-blinking GIFs,” digital guest books, and wacky personal websites.
E.gg offers users the ability to create zine-y looking digital collages that it calls “canvases.” The team behind it poses a series of rhetorical questions by way of introduction: “What if people could express themselves more freely today? Can we make more room for the weird and off-beat? Give creative control back to people?” Unlike almost all current social-media platforms, it will not display “like” counts or allow comments.
There is little to indicate that this new oddity was created by Facebook, the company that killed off quirky, ultra-personalized personal websites and made everyone’s “profile” look nearly the same. And though the people who made it are obviously poking fun at their employers a bit, it is a Facebook product. Facebook’s in-house app incubator—the New Product Experimentation team—launched the limited beta test for E.gg on Tuesday, the day before CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of members of Congress that his company has not engaged in anticompetitive practices to stifle its rivals. The product speaks plainly to Facebook’s apparent mindset for the past 16 years: The whole world should be connected, under Facebook’s umbrella, and competitors’ ideas exist to be appropriated for that purpose, whether as part of a core service or, now, as a nostalgic pet project.
Throughout yesterday’s hearing, members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust painted a compelling picture of Facebook as a giant, gobbling up the social web before it was even clear what that web could have been.