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Facebook adds a birthday video cam for sending 15-second messages to friends

The war on text continues

Facebook's plan to turn the News Feed into a personalized video channel faces a roadblock in the form of "happy birthday" messages, which until today have almost entirely taken the ancient form of text. Lol! That begins to change today with the launch of birthday video cam, a feature inside the flagship app that lets you record 15-second videos for your friends.

Birthday video cam, which is iOS-only for now, appears on your friends' profiles on their birthday. Tap it and you can record your message. If you like, you can swipe through a series of birthday-themed frames to really drive home the point before you post it on your friend's timeline.

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Friendly advice from a media brand to all you would-be Facebook video message stars — remember that most people watch Facebook video with the sound off. So consider holding up a series of written placards bearing well your wishes, like Bob Dylan in the "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video, while you smile winningly into the camera. (For the few who do turn the sound on, add a generic folk-rock backing track from the stock music licensing service of your choice.) Your view count will then go up along with the video's viral coefficient, and your friend will appreciate the increased engagement on their profile. In 2016, a happy birthday is measured in likes. Do your part!