The move can escalate its rivalry with Snapchat which it tried to buy in 2013 for $3 billion. The purchase of the Belarus-based app will add to Facebook's list of creative tools a whole new set of stickers, text on photos and finger doodles.

Facebook said it is acquiring Masquerade, a startup founded last year that overlays silly and cartoonish images, like an Iron Man helmet or a  gorilla face on people's faces as they shoot video. A Facebook spokeswoman said Masquerade had 'world-class imaging technology for video'.

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"Masquerade's effects are similar to Snapchat's filters. Although Snapchat's audience is smaller than Facebook's, its influence has grown in the past year because of partnerships with media companies, sports  leagues and other purveyors of live events,” she added.

According to SensorTower, a San Francisco-based app analytics tracker, Masquerade has quickly become a top mobile app and has been downloaded about 12.6 million times since it launched in December.