Facebook has decided that the future of social networking looks a lot like Snapchat.
After replicating Snapchat’s Stories format in Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, Facebook on Tuesday is releasing Stories in its main mobile app. Aptly named Facebook Stories, the feature is being made available globally after being tested in Ireland and a few other countries over the last few months.
With Stories, Facebook’s nearly two billion users can post photos and videos in chronological order that disappear after 24 hours. Like Instagram, the feature will sit at the top of Facebook’s mobile app. Special effects, such as location-based filters for cities like San Francisco, can be placed on top of content before it’s shared.
So far, Facebook has been reluctant to acknowledge Snapchat, which calls itself a “camera company,” as the inspiration behind the recent slew of camera-centric changes to its suite of apps. But with the launch of Facebook Stories, the company is admitting that Snapchat’s youthful, creative approach to messaging is worth fully adopting.
“We’ve seen this do well in other apps,” Facebook product manager Connor Hayes said during a recent Q&A with reporters. “This is something that Snapchat has really pioneered, and our take on this is that Stories has become a format that people use to share and consume photo and video across all social apps.”
In the countries where Facebook Stories has already been tested, Hayes said that the feature caused people to share more. Facebook has reportedly battled a decline in original sharing, and employees closely monitor how much users choose to freely share on their network.
Photos and videos shared through Facebook Stories can be posted to one’s profile for 24 hours or sent directly to someone else. A direct messaging feature lets people respond without going into the standalone Messenger app, which has its own Stories-like feature called Messenger Day.
Despite how similarly the Stories feature works across Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, Facebook isn’t letting people cross-post their photos and videos between apps.
Hayes said that the company expects people to use the sharing format differently based on which app they’re using.
For example, he said that Messenger Day is intended to help facilitate planning, like a group of friends going to a coffee shop, while the Facebook app is more for sharing bits and pieces from one’s everyday life.
Showing ads between Stories or opening up sponsored filters could prove to be a lucrative monetisation opportunity for Facebook, which already shows ads in Instagram Stories. Facebook employs a small team of artists who create all of its camera filters, and the company is initially working with six movie studios and two independent artists to licence special filters and effects for upcoming movies like “Despicable Me 3.”
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