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Facebook Messenger brings its Snapchat-style Stories feature to Australia

Facebook is testing its ephemeral Stories feature for Messenger in another region, following its experimental introduction in Poland in September.

“Messenger Day” has now been spotted by users in Australia, less than a month after its limited debut, according to TechCrunch. For its part, Facebook is playing down talk of an imminent global roll-out, instead referring to the Australia launch as just another “small test” — although the feature must have gained some traction in Poland to merit the expansion.

Facebook’s Messenger Day update boasts a number of new features, the most prominent is the ability to create and share stories (images and videos that auto-play in a slideshow format) that are displayed for 24 hours before disappearing. If your first reaction to the update is “that sounds just like Snapchat and Instagram,” that’s because it is. Users can doodle on the Messenger Day posts, and overlay them with graphics such as filters, Facebook stickers, and text.

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The only major difference noted by users is the filter suggestion function, which basically prompts you to share different types of posts, such as “I’m Feeling”, “Who’s Up For?” and “I’m Doing.” Clicking on these options reveals associated filters in relation to events and emotions like “blessed,” “let’s grab drinks” and “study time.”

Unlike Snapchat (and its buzzing South Korean clone Snow), Messenger Day foregoes selfie filters — arguably the most fun Snapchat feature — in favor of graphics and stickers.

“We know that people come to Messenger to share everyday moments with friends and family. In Poland we are running a small test of new ways for people to share those updates visually. We have nothing more to announce at this time,” a Messenger spokesperson said in a statement upon its introduction last month.

Additionally, Facebook quietly borrowed from another popular messaging app as part of the update. Tucked away among the new features are additional stickers from local designers — which sounds suspiciously similar to Line and WeChat’s respective stickers marketplace tools, both of which opened up the popular graphics to creators. We already know that Facebook is actively trying to emulate those apps, courtesy of its recent hire of a WeChat product manager and the launch of Messenger bots. An added emphasis on stickers only brings it closer to its Asian rivals.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has borrowed from Snapchat. In August, users began spotting a disappearing messages feature on Messenger. A similar group messaging function has also appeared for select users on Facebook itself. And who can forget its Poke and Slingshot apps (aside from everyone who ignored them in the first place)? Products of Facebook’s now-defunct Creative Labs department, dedicated to standalone apps, the two offerings failed to attract an audience and were hardly updated as a result.

Seeing as Instagram Stories is apparently thriving, it begs the question: why is Facebook still determined to copy Snapchat despite the backlash such plagiarism inevitably attracts? The answer is that the social network craves the type of personal (if disposable) posts Snapchat users share on a daily basis. Facebook simply doesn’t command that type of activity, at least not anymore.

If Facebook gets the result it wants, and Messenger Day takes off in its current markets, don’t be surprised if it lands on these shores in the near future.

Updated on 10-18-2016 by Saqib Shah: Added news of Messenger Day’s Australia test.