While Facebook is something of a de facto leader in social media, they aren’t above taking cues from other apps and websites. On Wednesday, Facebook introduced “Facebook Stories,” a new feature similar to Snapchat Stories.
A demo video showcased how the feature works. At the top of a user’s newsfeed will be small, captioned pictures of their friends. When clicked on, video clips and/or photos of that friend’s choice will appear. They will be available for 24 hours before disappearing.
This is virtually identical to Snapchat stories, whose 24-hour timespan works with Snapchat’s longstanding feature of setting photos and videos for automatic “self-destruct.
When asked about the implementation of this new feature, Facebook had this to say:
“Facebook has long been the place to share with friends and family, but the way that people share is changing in significant ways. 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. 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.”
Currently, Facebook Stories is only available in Ireland. The plan is to expand it to other countries, provided it catches on with users.
It is evident that Facebook is engaging in some sort of social media turf with Snapchat. The site has tried previously to acquire Snapchat. A likely reason why users, particularly younger ones, leaving Facebook for comparatively simpler apps such as Snapchat and Instagram.
While Facebook boasts over one billion monthly users, there is still the concern over shedding those numbers. If young people are leaving Facebook now, it could create an association of Facebook as not being cool or enticing for teenagers and college students.
Will it work? It’s hard to not see this move as a bit desperate on Facebook’s part. They were once the leader of the pack in social media, and in terms of numbers, they might still be. However, by openly aping a competitor, they’re indicating they don’t have enough confidence in their own service.
Facebook Stories as a feature is likely to gain some traction for existing users, as people who don’t use Snapchat will be excited by the novelty. However, it’s difficult to imagine it roping back in those who have exiled the website or recruiting all that many new users. What happens remains to be seen, but this is decidedly not Facebook’s most ingenious development.