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Facebook is shutting down Bonfire, its Houseparty clone for group video chat

Guess that one didn’t work out

Facebook Bonfire group video chat Image: Apple App store

Facebook is shutting down a clone of the group video chat app Houseparty, The Verge has learned. Bonfire, which Facebook began testing in the summer of 2017, will stop working sometime this month. The app began testing in Denmark in the fall of 2017, but it never came to the United States.

“In May we’ll be ending support for the Bonfire tests,” Facebook said in a statement. “We’ll incorporate elements of what we learned into other current and future products.”

Facebook’s effort to clone Houseparty suggested the company had grown at least somewhat nervous about the app’s early success with younger users. Houseparty began life as a synchronous group video chat in which participants would open it up to see who else was already online, hanging out digitally. The company hoped to create a network built on live virtual hangouts.

Houseparty has not disclosed how many people use the app in recent memory. The company recently began selling games as part of a shift toward building “shared experiences.” Ben Rubin, the company’s co-founder and CEO, stepped down in March. Its co-founder and former chief operating officer, Sima Sistani, now runs the company.

Facebook has been adding group video chat features to its other apps over time, including Instagram and Messenger. At Facebook’s F8 developer conference this week, the company announced that a feature for watching videos together in Messenger would soon go live in the app.