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Instagram takes on Snapchat with 'disappearing stories'

Harshith Mallya
3rd Aug 2016
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Instagram on Tuesday announced the launch of 'Instagram Stories', a new feature that lets users share moments of their day in the form of multiple photos and videos, which appear in a slideshow format. In the blog post, Instagram described the mechanics of its new features-

InstagramStories

Image credit- Instagram blog

Disappearing posts- Users can share as much as they want throughout the day and make use of text and drawing tools to get creative. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on their profile grid or feed.

No likes or public comments- Unlike the 'public waters' of Instagram and Facebook, Instagram stories will not include likes or comments. Users can send private messages through 'Instagram Direct' to interact with other users.

Follow friends and celebrities- By default, users will see stories from people they follow in a bar at the top of their feed. When a user posts a new story, their profile photo will have a colourful ring to indicate the same. To view someone’s story, users need to tap the profile picture, and can then swipe forward or backward to jump to other stories.

Privacy settings- Users can tweak privacy settings based on their preferences and make their accounts private or public, or even block or hide their content from specific users. Users will also be able to check out who has seen their photo and video stories.

As most users around the world will be aware, most 'Instagram Stories' features, including disappearing posts after 24 hours, sound eerily similar to Evan Spiegel's Snapchat, which had launched a 'stories' feature in June 2014. Facebook (Instagram's parent company) had tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013, but the latter had declined the offer.

Snapchat, though, has been quite successful, growing at a scorching pace. The company had raised $200 million in a Series E round of funding led by Alibaba in 2015, and more recently in May 2016, raised $1.8 billion in a Series F round from multiple investors, at an estimated $20 billion valuation. Snapchat has also been active in July 2016, launching new features such as Memories, a way to save images and videos; Bitmoji integration and location specific stickers called Geostickers, a feature launched today.

Facebook has long been bullish on video, giving special preference to videos in the newsfeed. The social media giant launched 'Facebook live', a live streaming feature for brands and individuals to better engage with their friends and followers. Mark Zuckerberg took to Facebook to announce Instagram Stories and noted,

This is the latest step in putting video at the center of all our services. People are already creating and sharing more video, so we're going to make it even easier.

Instagram noted that 'Stories' will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks on iOS and Android. Instagram has recently faced flak for changing the nature of its newsfeed, opting for an algorithmic approach, and now the launch of Stories could further complicate things. It seems like Instagram is trying to pull the proverbial rug out from under Snapchat's feet to widen its user base, but at the moment, Snapchat has more features and integrations to keep its loyal users from straying away.

More details about Instagram Stories here.

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