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Instagram launches new video channels to challenge Snapchat

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If you’re an Instagram user in the U.S. then you might have noticed a new feature added to the app yesterday: A curated list of Halloween-themed videos submitted by users. It’s the first of several planned experiments designed to surface the best clips on the network, and it can be found by heading through the Explore tab inside the app.

The introduction of the new video channels haven’t been officially announced by Instagram but were first reported by Wired. They’re similar to Snapchat’s Stories in that they give users a way to find interesting content centered around a particular event or celebration — this weekend Halloween was the focus, but in the future music festivals or even news events might get their moment. As on Snapchat, the channels last for 24 hours before they disappear from view.

It’s not just a shot across the bows of Facebook, either: It’s also a push to try and capture some of Twitter’s share of the breaking news market. Instagram continues to pull away from Twitter in terms of user numbers (400 million vs. 320 million), but Twitter is still the place many people go to when they want to monitor something live and in the moment. The new video channels could change that.

According to Wired, the Instagram videos are hand-picked by staff at parent company Facebook, and users can even affix hashtags to their clips if they want to make their videos available for inclusion. The videos can be liked or dismissed, with more information about the creator available with a tap — ultimately this could open up a new advertising stream for Instagram as well.

“This is a new way to experience events and big moments, as they happen, through the eyes of the Instagram community,” a spokesperson for the app told Re/code in an email. At the moment, that’s all the confirmation we have that these new channels are now a part of Instagram, though you can expect a more official announcement in the near future.

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