Facebook — like Snapchat and Instagram before it — is getting an ephemeral, video-based Stories feature.
The social network is testing Stories in Ireland, where as of today members can use the new format to share videos and photos with their friends that will disappear after 24 hours and won’t automatically show up in their News Feeds.
The idea is that people will use their Facebook iOS or Android app to add photos and videos from their smartphone throughout the day, and their friends will tap through the stories to see what they’ve been up to. It’s an opt-in approach, although if you want to make your story harder for people to ignore, you can set it to show up in people’s News Feeds.
There will be camera effects, too, like masks and frames that you can add to videos and photos. Your friends can reply to or comment on your stories with a new accompanying feature called Direct, which is essentially a chat room. Like Stories, it is separate from the News Feed that makes up Facebook’s bread and butter.
If the stories concept sounds familiar, that’s because it is: Snapchat pioneered it nearly four years ago with its own Stories feature, and Facebook-owned Instagram copied it last summer. It’s hardly surprising, then, that it would eventually show up on the world’s largest social network, which described it as an evolution of how people share their lives online.
“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,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
For now, Facebook Stories is only available in Ireland, which has also served as a testing ground for some of the company’s other recent projects, including a beta version of Direct. Facebook said that Stories will arrive in additional countries “in the coming months,” along with some other new camera-related features.
Also today, Facebook overhauled how its Trending stories section displays, promising to show everyone the same items.