If you open the Facebook app on your phone, you might have noticed a slight change at the top of the app. Facebook is gradually rolling out ephemeral stories similar to Snapchat. In fact, this move is a direct shot at Snapchat which is encroaching on Facebook’s dominance in social media, particularly when it comes to sharing photos and videos. According to The Verge, the update to the Facebook app is in three parts: “a redesigned in-app camera, a new feed of ephemeral stories at the top of the News Feed, and a private messaging feature called Direct”. Facebook is recognizing that content creating is shifting for mostly text to photos and videos. Product manager for Facebook stories, Connor Hayes, even admits that Snapchat pioneered the stories concept. Just like Snapchat, Facebook stories disappear 24 hours after they are posted. Also like Snapchat, stories can be decorated with other media such as stickers, text, and of course filters. Facebook changes a few things such as swiping up and down to access filters you have favorited. There are more filters and skins than on Snapchat but emojis and stickers won’t be able to be added until after it’s posted. Videos can be up to 20 minutes long compared to 15 seconds on Instagram (which Facebook also owns) and 10 seconds on Snapchat. Facebook stories are currently only for regular users. Brands, publishers, celebrity pages, and advertisers cannot use stories. However, Facebook said it has deals with film studios to make promotional filters (think being able to add a Justice League filter when the movie comes out).
The popularity of video sharing sites like Snapchat and even Instagram have seemed to solidified stories as a new way of sharing with friends. Whether this leads to the downfall of text based sharing remains to be seen but Facebook seems to be trying to stay relevant in an age of social media that it largely help popularize. The downside of Facebook stories is one of privacy currently. Unlike the Timeline, posting to your “Story” makes it available to all your friends for 24 hours and there is currently no way to select who can see your stories outside of your friends. The ephemeral nature of the stories may make that somewhat irrelevant but we’ve seen the rise of people getting fired for their actions on social media. Regardless, video/photo sharing is drastically on the rise and younger millennials seem to prefer short form sharing rather than long form text based sharing. Apple has even thrown their hat in the ring somewhat with their new app Clips. The ubiquity of smartphones allows almost anyone to share anything at any time. Being the largest social media outlet, Facebook is trying to stay up on latest trends such as smartphones and allowing people to utilize their phones with Facebook in a way that caters to the new ways people are sharing and connecting with their friends. While Facebook’s reach is more global than Snapchat, time will tell if it will usurp Snapchat as the video sharing king.