Four years ago, the company formerly known as Snapchat turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook. Since then, Facebook has made numerous efforts to copy the ephemeral messaging app and has finally succeeded in bringing the Snapchat Stories feature to not only
Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, but now directly to the biggest prize of all: Facebook itself. (This feature is only available through Facebook’s mobile app.)
The social networking giant today announced the global rollout of Facebook Stories, the ephemeral storytelling mechanism that lives right above the News Feed. Now there’s no escaping Snapchat Stories no matter which app you’re using.
As with Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, Facebook Stories lets you post photos and videos in a temporary environment. “What we’re trying to do is upgrade the [Facebook] app to be centered around a way people are behaving that involves the camera,” explained product manager Connor Hayes.
Previously available in select countries, Facebook Stories leverages updated camera technology that’s been added into the company’s core app. You can compose a photo or video, apply any of the hundreds of effects, masks, and filters, and share it with your friends through a story, or you can post it directly to your News Feed for others to see. Or, if you’d like, there’s an option to send it directly to a friend like a private message. Either way, the content has a shelf life of 24 hours.
If you do post Stories directly to your timeline, Facebook has made a special post to denote the story’s source, with images displayed in full and the like, comment, and share buttons overlaid on top of the post.
And you don’t need to capture original photos and video to post, as Facebook Stories supports importing previously recorded media from your camera roll. Facebook does allow you to use your phone’s camera to post status updates, but this is not directly tied into the News Feed.
The feature uses augmented reality to let you apply numerous frames, text, doodles, masks, and effects right onto the media. Plus, there’s some facial recognition technology at work to maximize the impact of certain effects, depending on how many people are in the photo or video.
A set of filters, effects, and masks are available worldwide, but Facebook has also created others that are geo-targeted — posts around Carnival will be seen by those in Brazil, but not in Spain, for instance. In fact, there are custom effects for nine specific markets, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. “The effects are meant to help people create expressions on Facebook,” said Kristen Spilman, the company’s director of art and animation.
Effects include a lazy sloth to highlight how you feel about Mondays, a pizza animation to represent hunger, a filter to celebrate your achievements, and more. There’s even a space cat with laser eyes, and Spilman revealed that soon after the launch of Facebook Stories there will be support for voice transformation, meaning you can have a high-pitch voice, a different accent, and more. And naturally there are graphics to mark occasions such as Pride Week, and even movie premieres.