The joke is becoming old at this point: Facebook can’t seem to stop grafting the competition’s features into its own social web. It launched Facebook Live, a streaming video feature “inspired” by apps like Twitter’s Periscope and Meerkat, in 2015. It recently added a Stories feature to Instagram, a subsidiary, shortly after the introduction of Snapchat Stories. Now, it’s doing more of the same. On Wednesday, Facebook announced Facebook Stories — a collection of automatically generated ephemeral montages.
Using Facebook’s new in-app camera, users can put filters over friends’ faces and tag photos and videos with locations, and add that content to Stories. Like Instagram and Snapchat, Stories stick around for 24 hours.
Stories don’t show up in the News Feed or on a user’s timeline by default, but tapping on a friend’s circle pulls up their most recent Story. Viewers then have the option to sending a direct message, or sharing the Story with their broader friend group.
“The way people share today is different to five or even two years ago — it’s much more visual, with more photos and videos than ever before,” Facebook said in a statement. “We want to make it fast and fun for people to share creative and expressive photos and videos with whoever they want, whenever they want.”
It’s an attempt to prod users into sharing more of their personal moments on Facebook. A report from The Information in April found users were uploading fewer videos and photos to the social network, preferring instead to “reshare” existing content. Stories might help to reverse the trend.
“[We] built on a format that Snapchat invented,” Instagram’s head of product Kevin Weil told Recode. “We believe that format will be universal.”
It couldn’t have a wider audience. Stories are initially rolling out to Facebook users in Ireland for the moment, but a spokesperson told Business Insider that the company planned to bring it to more countries in the coming months.
Facebook’s cloned more just Snapchat’s Stories feature in recent years. It bought MSQRD, an app that creates face filters, in March, and added the feature to the Facebook app and Messenger. It recently began testing Snapchat-style cameras in the Facebook app. It also built a virtual copy of Snapchat called Flash for emerging markets.
It’s a winning strategy. Facebook says that more than 150 million people use Stories every day, which is roughly the same number of active users on Snapchat. That is just in the five months since the debut of Instagram Stories. Instagram has roughly 600 million users, and Facebook more than 1.2 billion.
Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, is readying an initial public offering that’s expected to fetch between $20 billion to $25 billion. It could be one of the largest U.S. technology IPOs in recent years. Facebook reportedly attempted to buy Snap for $3 billion in 2013, but the startup declined.
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