Facebook Raids Snapchat’s Stories Feature for Its Main App

March 29, 2017 - 3 minutes read

Facebook has not been subtle in its desire to cut into whatever edge Snapchat has in the startup world, blatantly copying the ephemeral messaging app’s Stories feature for Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Now the company’s mobile app development team is rolling out its take on Snapchat’s innovations on the latest update of the main Facebook app. Users of the mobile app will find their friends’ disappearing stories across the top of the News Feed and a new in-app camera with the sort of wacky filters and simple, splashy image editing tools that Snapchat popularized. There is also a new messaging feature called “Direct” that allows for more private communication. The changes constitute a major shift in the platform towards emphasizing photos and videos over text.

Toronto iPhone app developers have likely heard the line about cameras being the new keyboards, and it appears that Facebook buys it hook, line, and sinker. The company is going all in on the idea that messaging, and communication in general, is moving away from words and into images. Whether or not that’s a safe bet is another question entirely. This frenzy for stories could be a youth fad, an opportunity for a quick cash-in and little more. Facebook could also hasten that fad’s death through saturation as users are confronted with the choice of whether to post their story to Facebook or Instagram or one of the other apps that have encroached on Snapchat’s game. Some may decide that they don’t want to share their story at all.

There is something almost mystical in the way some mobile app developers talk about communication evolving towards the visual, but it’s worth noting that on a basic, practical level, it’s just better business. Advertisers have a difficult time breaking into text communication, where ads feel like trespassing. It’s much easier to slip an ad into image-based communications, perhaps because TV has trained consumers to accept interruptions in their visual content.

Of course, the stories craze can be both the next wave of communication and a ruthlessly commercial move; Facebook needs it to be both. Its full-on embrace of stories and ephemeral messaging could push Snapchat’s novel ideas to a bigger audience — and Snapchat itself right out of the picture.

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