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Facebook launches Stories in its main app (techcrunch.com)
93 points by danijelb on March 28, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 101 comments

I thought a big factor for Snapchat was that it did not have Facebook users.

Teens and 20-somethings liked the fact that Snapchat was their smaller circle of real friends. Facebook has that goofy uncle, and coworkers from 5 jobs ago, and old classmates you don't really want to stay in touch with. Facebook has too many "weak ties".

Therefore, Facebook could clone every feature of Snapchat but it can't change the fact that it is still Facebook. The new features might keep Facebook users from switching to Snapchat but would it entice Snapchat users to switch to Facebook? Sure, people can use social networks for a myriad of reasons but Snapchat the network seems to be a dominant factor.

When Instagram launched Stories, I noticed that most of my friends moved there. I rarely open Snapchat because it is almost empty, nothing is happening there. But apparently it stayed popular among high school students, so I guess it is different among different demographics - I'm 23 and most of my friends who switched are similar age.

Facebook is probably hoping that similar will happen with the main app.

That's interesting. I'm 24 and have a different experience. Among my close friends, none use Instagram to the point that I feel the need to. Snapchat is fairly popular. In the last couple months, my girlfriend and I both realized that Facebook was giving tons of stuff about people we don't care much about, and

It's definitely popular in high school. I know a police officer who works in a high school. Snapchat is a huge pain point for them. Someone takes a screenshot of a nude their girlfriend sent and passes it along to friends 6 or 12 months later after they broke up and suddenly 45 people have child porn on their phones. One person took a picture of a friend and in the background they noticed a student upskirting a girl.

Those things happened before Snapchat, too.. unfortunately it's an expected part of high school culture in the US.

Just the US?

> The new features might keep Facebook users from switching to Snapchat but would it entice Snapchat users to switch to Facebook?

I think the former is at least as important as the latter. Facebook has an order of magnitude more users than Snapchat. FB needs to keep their platform feeling modern and interesting so existing users don't feel the need to leave for greener pastures.

The walled garden once again, I wonder how Steve Case feels about all this.

> Teens and 20-somethings liked the fact that Snapchat was their real friends. Facebook has that goofy uncle, and coworkers from 5 jobs ago, and old classmates you don't really want to stay in touch with. Facebook has too many "weak ties".

You can choose who you share your stories with on Facebook.

But Facebook doesn't need to get _all_ Snapchat users to switch. It only needs a tiny percentage of all those users and will severely damage Snapchat (by slowing down its growth). See this article for a good argument: http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-copy-snapchat-2017-3

>You can choose who you share your stories with on Facebook.

Sure, I get that from a pure functional perspective. However, I'm talking about psychology of app usage.

Consider an example of an iPhone home screen.[1] The user sees the Snapchat icon and a Facebook icon next to each other. I believe that many people (millions) will mentally compartmentalize the yellow ghost as "my real friends" and the blue "f" as "every random acquaintance that ever sent me a friend request and I never said no because of etiquette."

Usage of each icon evolved to become its own "world" so to speak. Sure, one could theoretically create sub-worlds inside of Facebook but a customized "real friends of Facebook inside of Facebook" seems to be more work than just pushing the button with the yellow ghost. Staying inside the Snapchat world also minimizes accidentally sending the wrong Facebook-story to the wrong Facebook-friend.

[1] http://i.imgur.com/CV91LsE.png

Completely agree with this, and so do all the kids at school apparently. Since release, the only content I see on Messenger Stories is shitty memes from people I already hid from my feed (the same reason I don't use Facebook is shitty memes). Instagram stories has some semi interesting content, but all the good FOMO inducing content is usually on Snap and there might b research on this as well (something like the effect of FOMO on millennial social media addiction).

Haha, the only Facebook Messenger story I saw was someone's Snapchat code.

FOMO seems to be a huge aspect of the draw. You can see it in teen social media usage, online gaming, etc.

> You can choose who you share your stories with on Facebook. This is very unintuitive though. It is very easy to make a mistake, like sending a photo to multiple people create a group of them instead of sending them separately. Facebook is doing everything in its power to make your posts public. If they had some kind easy to use circles, that would be best.

right, and I'm guessing their new feature will also do everything it can to make you share your stories as widely as possible, which means that once again they are not going to be luring in the snapchat demographic

I never understood why people are so averse to unfriending people they don't talk to on Facebook. I'm down to few dozen "friends" on facebook because every couple months I go through the list and delete everyone I haven't spoken with or who is not relevant to my interests anymore. Also - no family friends, that's like rule number one.

Every place has a culture, which has rules and expectations that don't depend on your own personal opinions. I would agree with GP that the culture of Facebook says that unfriending someone means something negative towards them.

Sure, it is negative, but if you didnt want to be friends with them (not even virtually), why would you be so crushed up about their feelings?

Because I would like to be an acquaintance, but facebook doesn't have that option. Crushing feelings of friendly acquaintances who didn't do anything wrong doesn't seem like a nice thing to do.

> Because I would like to be an acquaintance, but facebook doesn't have that option

It literally does have that option - go to their profile, click the "friend" dropdown, change it from "friend" to "acquaintance", see that they stop showing up in your feed :)


Unfriending someone on Facebook has negative connotations (at least to me and those I know). I take the alternate approach of adding them to the default "acquaintances" list, and share accordingly. I also unfollow a large percentage of my friends so my newsfeed isn't polluted. The tools are there they just take some effort to get in the right place.

> I also unfollow a large percentage of my friends so my newsfeed isn't polluted.

How does that work out for you? I could never get Facebook to give me a usable news feed. I unfollow friends, pages, like new pages, intentionally scroll through new pages and like random things in order to get its posts on my newsfeed, adding people as my "close friends", blocking random pages that are on my newsfeed for bullshit reasons ("John Doe and 2 other friends like this post") and I could still never get anything even remotely useful, neither by adding the data, nor by reducing the number of data.

The latest pitfall I'm having is "a video that you may like". It started appearing like less than seven days ago, and in every single example, it's just some bullshit video from a page that I have never liked, but have interacted with in the past once or twice.

My Newsfeed quality is pretty good I think, but I'm not doing anything that you aren't already. I did spend a lot of time hiding specific pages that friends would share (e.g. "Occupy Democrats", other partisan political things, anything ending in "Memes") - you click the little arrow, then Hide Post, then Hide All From $PAGE. I also added people I really care about to "Show First" in News feed preferences, which is different than the Close Friends list.

A large percentage of my feed is from pages for video games and tech companies/software. It's possible my interests align better with how they select stories for my feed than yours?

I totally agree. There are enough "open" social networks like Twitter and Instagram that are public by default, the point of being mutually authenticated friends on facebook only seems useful if you interact with that person in real life (or did at one time). Otherwise why not just make Facebook public by default like the others?

Facebook is pulling Zynga here. Facebook is a cluttered mess. I gave up on them 3 years back when i was getting updates from friends of my friends.

Facebook lets you tailor messages to a subset of your friends, but Facebook's method difficult and unintuitive. Google+ did a great job at this with circles, unfortunately none of the people I know actually started using it.

How long would it take until snapchat becomes the same?

You are right, it's exactly a network effect in that Fb wants to keep existing user interested.

Exactly. Kids don't want to use Facebook. That's the end of the conversation. Facebook has a PR problem that they literally will never be able to shake.

Facebook has become the Blackboard of the internet; kids will use because it's a quick way to talk to their college friends and coordinate events and shit and that's it.

So true. I was beginning to enjoy doing Stories in the Messenger app.

that's true but it limits the growth potential and reach. Let Snapchat take a good portion of the teen market, while FB goes after everyone else.

I think Snapchat is pretty popular with people in their 20s as well. Instagram with people in their 30s. The only "young" people I see on Facebook are new mothers who want to share pictures of their kids with older relatives.

"After 24 hours, posts in your story disappear forever" - Yeah, sure. You mean it stays in Facebook datacenters forever. Just a slight difference. :)

Is that any different than Snapchat? There's no proof either way.

>"Snapchat servers are designed to automatically delete Snaps after they’ve been viewed by all recipients. Opened Snaps typically cannot be retrieved from Snapchat's servers by anyone, for any reason. Also, Snapchat servers are designed to automatically delete unopened Snaps after 30 days. However, unopened Snaps sent to a Group Chat are deleted by default after 24 hours."[0]

[0] https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/a/when-are-snaps-chats-de...

I mean, sure, but I'm saying that neither are open source so you have to take the companies at their word.

Open source (and being able to verify they're actually running that code) would ultimately be better, but at least this way you have a point of reference to hold the company accountable when it inevitably comes out that they weren't faithful to their marketing.

I would assume that snapchat doesn't delete your snaps after x amount of hours either. Probably for the same reasons.

Snapchat claims they delete snaps immediately after snaps are opened, but unopened snaps stay on their servers for 30 days after they're sent:

> Snapchat servers are designed to automatically delete Snaps after they’ve been viewed by all recipients. Opened Snaps typically cannot be retrieved from Snapchat's servers by anyone, for any reason. Also, Snapchat servers are designed to automatically delete unopened Snaps after 30 days. However, unopened Snaps sent to a Group Chat are deleted by default after 24 hours. [1]

[1] https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/a/when-are-snaps-chats-de...

I'm pretty sure this only has to do with snaps and not stories, as the terms on their stories is much broader

"You grant Snapchat a world-wide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, create derivative works from, publicly perform, broadcast, distribute, syndicate, promote, exhibit, and publicly display that content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods,”

Aside from this being legal boilerplate used in most terms of service documents, this snippet doesn't say anything about data retention.

you're right but it certainly implies that there is no limit and can be easily circumvented. Example, they might delete what you uploaded, but that doesn't mean they didn't duplicate it and keep it around. legalspeak.

Law enforcement has had a tough time with snapchat because they actually do delete the data according to their policy. They have a law enforcement guide which goes over what to expect for data requests, and it's quite sparse. Can't link right now, on mobile and it's a PDF.

In 2014, they were seeing 400 million images per day, 88% of which were to one person [1]. Assuming 0.33 mb/image, no videos, and 100% going to 1 person, that's 132 TB/day.

Per their recent SEC filing, they're now up to 2.5 billion snaps per day. [2]

There's a strong business case for deleting the files as soon as you can. Before they were a gigantic company, their brand trust and keeping things lean encouraged deleting the photos. I believe that holds true today.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/how-many-snaps-snapchat-users...

[2] https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1564408/000119312517...

Edit: I decided to run some quick 'n dirty estimation and was a bit surprised by how "cheap" it would actually be to store it all. Snap uses Google Cloud Services, and given their volume, will have a pretty sweet pricing deal. For that reason, I estimated with $0.007/GB, which is the coldline rate per [3] even though they probably wouldn't be doing coldline storage.


Very rough estimate for 1 year of storing every image snap from now until next year is ~13.5 million. At 2.5 billion snaps/day, images only, it would cost ~$5775/month to store all the data generated today.

As an aside, I do wonder if there would be an opportunity for Snap to get and store context from an image without storing the image. It may be a balance between big data and minimizing costs. I'm thinking something along the lines of the list of words from Clarifai [4] stored with the metadata. It wouldn't be very useful to the police because the image recognition is wrong sometimes. "Marijuana" as a tag would be very weak evidence to put forth in court if the police didn't also have the image.

[3] https://cloud.google.com/storage/pricing#storage-pricing

[4] https://developer.clarifai.com/models/aaa03c23b3724a16a56b62...

Thank you!

It says a lot that a company would rather keep petabytes of data generated every week, that will never be used by anyone except its data mining algorithms and spy agencies, than throw it away and have a more sustainable storage solution that doesn't grow with time.

I am not convinced it makes sense for them to do it from an economic standpoint.

Unless all they have to do is keep taking dark money via the markets to continue to fund the millennial spying machine.

Instagram and Whatsapp stories I can understand - I don't particularly think they're good decisions, but I can understand them.

To an extent it makes even more sense in the Facebook app itself, but having the core app and Messenger have separate stories despite them using the same exact account is ridiculous to me.

Yep, this doesn't make any sense to me. I get WhatsApp/Instagram not working together. But Messenger and Facebook are two sides of the same product and the snapchat clones in each are completely separate. They spent a lot of effort making both Facebook and Messenger required on mobile, and now that it was successful it seems they're trying to separate them out, but that leaves a functionality hole in Facebook itself - Messenger IS Facebook's messaging feature, except when it isn't.

EDIT: Stories also don't appear to show up on facebook.com.

EDIT 2: I just remembered that you can use Messenger without a Facebook account[1]. Having them separate still doesn't make sense.

[1]: https://www.facebook.com/help/messenger-app/1526848634305688

I've loved using Instagram Stories since they launched, but have absolutely no interest in using the equivalent features in Messenger or Facebook proper. And Snapchat never really took for me.

The people I see on Instagram aren't my small circle of real friends, or my bigger bigger circle of old acquaintances, but rather (mostly random) interesting people posting interesting photography of subjects I'm interested in. The Stories feature (temporary, unpolished) compensates perfectly for the deficiencies of the main Instagram product (permanent, curated), and vice versa.

I've been parroting for a while that Snapchat was a feature masquerading as a business (I got that idea from somewhere but I don't remember where). Once FB messenger gets the filter goofiness that SC has (maybe it does already, I dont know), that'll be everything SC had to offer that I am aware of.

Unless SC does something novel soon, I wouldn't assume that it's going to be around for much longer.

It will stick around for several more years but the business model for SC is really questionable to keep up with making profit ever. The whole "I've got a lot of active users" is pretty much a building on fire, much like Uber in general. The fire will go on for as long as there are enough oxygen and enough material to burn until users starts to drop or advertisers see no value returning from paying Snapchat. SC won't completely go away for a long time, much like MySpace is still a thing today. Uber on the other hand is sort of "too big to fail" because of the amount of users it has already accumulated and already invested. Don't think SC will be too big to fail ever, but it will be interested to see how SC plays out in the next couple years with its production evolution.

> The whole "I've got a lot of active users" is pretty much a building on fire

Isn't this what caused the dot-com bust of 2000?

Yeah, I think so. I think we are seeing this with Uber already, which I am afraid Uber will become the eventual too big to fail, but it can fail if nothing done right since in 2016 Uber has lost $3B already. Like I said, SC's failure wouldn't be a huge loss for investors. It's going IPO.

FB messenger got the feature a couple weeks ago.

In terms of adoption rate amongst people on my friends list, more people began using the Stories on Instagram immediately. Only 2 or 3 people out of 450+ "friends" on my FB have even posted to the story thing in messenger.

The first day Stories was available for Instagram, people were posting either the same things to both Instagram and Snapchat stories, or just regular "snap"-type posts.

If FB messenger adoption in my circle is anything like it is for the majority of regular users, then it won't be very popular.

You probably got that idea from Steve Jobs, describing Dropbox to Drew Houston.

Dropbox is doing pretty well though, if that's the comparison Snap might be in good shape!


At what point will Facebook totally kill m.facebook.com and force users to download the app? They've already done this with messenger; it's only a matter of time before they do the same for Facebook.app.

That will be the day I finally leave Facebook for good, because I have no interest in downloading that monstrosity of a spy device onto my iPhone.

I don't care so much about m.facebook.com, but I've been using mbasic.facebook.com on both desktop and mobile since someone on this site pointed it out. It's awkward, but it works with absolutely no JavaScript, and lets me keep in touch with Facebook-oriented friends (in the original sense) with much less potential surveillance. It's also part of their "altruistic" Free Basics program, so it has enough PR value to stick around for awhile.

You can still read Facebook messages on the mbasic site.


On Android you can download faceslim. It's the mobile site with the messages in an app. They used a special user agent to reenable the messages. You even have notifications ! (Manually checked every 30 minutes or so)

Maybe you can have it too by downloading Firefox for iPhone and changing the user agent. (I haven't tried but it's worth a shot)

what makes you think that your iPhone is not a spy device itself?

Because Apple, unlike Facebook, doesn't have any product that would benefit from utilizing your data? As far as I know (could be wrong, never had iPhone), Apple doesn't tweak your iPhone experience based on your previous usage.

Remember when Facebook copied twitter and pushed hard for everyone to write public posts on their wall?

Facebook's character fundamentally changes - again.

I just read Chaos Monkeys (http://amzn.to/2nr5THJ) – a silicon valley insider tale with someone who worked at FB – and it points out that one of FB's cultural strengths was the ability and willingness to completely change their character in response to new conditions.

As it grows, I'm sure inertia will continue to slow it down, but that willingness for reinvention seems like quite a powerful property.

(Another current book – Antifragile (http://amzn.to/2nr15ST) – discusses systems that benefit from randomness and volatility. I wonder if the willingness for reinvention allows for a kind of anti-fragile generational selection to work: instead of waiting for selective forces to birth a different and new stronger generation, you transform yourself (or your company) to _become_ that new generation, allowing you to directly benefit from selective pressures. It's tough to do, psychologically and culturally, and the willingness to do so seems an extremely valuable quality to cultivate.)

This is an insightful comment. It is easy to forget not just how different Facebook of 2017 is from 2007 but the cycles they've gone through.

Facebook measures and adapts to user engagement. When something spurs a loss of engagement eventually it disappears. In the social space, other tech companies struggle just getting a few new things shipped and then bail when they don't look like they are working out.

It is in Facebook's best interest to see Snapchat fail. The next big thing that comes around, it will be a lot easier for Facebook to buy early on.

On another note, if Instagram, Messenger, Whatsapp, and Facebook all start looking like the same app, it gives Facebook a particularly powerful platform. Everything could end up being rolled up in to a single app in the future -- or a new device.

A single-purpose (=Facebook) device has already failed. And it doesn’t look like Facebook is going to role apps into one. More the opposite: Give the illusion of choice. Facebook is behind Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Many people repulse Facebook but still use their non-Facebook branded services. Some of the features converge, but the apps won’t merge. It is only to drown out the competition (Snapchat).

This is stupid. We now have stories in 10 different apps. Who thought this was a good idea?

I think Facebook are gripping at anything to appear that they're still relevant

I don't think it's a question of them being desperate to look 'relevant' as much of them just being afraid to lose market share.

Enough people use Facebook and either don't use Snapchat or use Facebook for other types of communication that SC couldn't really kill FB. But it would definitely hurt.

1+ (2?) billion users. You make it sound like they're a has-been.

1.86B as of December.

> Who thought this was a good idea?

People who like snapchat?


Did they betatest this feature? I swear I've had it for at least a week or two now, and I've seen some friends post a couple of stories as well. I thought it was much less popular than the stories in Instagram or Messenger, but maybe most of them didn't have the feature yet. Anyway, Snapchat still seems to be by far the most popular for this functionality, at least in my circle of friends.

Facebook is known to A/B test features in other countries before rolling them out to the rest of the world.

Stories in particular launched earlier this year in Ireland, Chile, Greece and Vietnam.

> Facebook Stories, a feature that puts photos that disappear after 24 hours at the top of the Facebook mobile app, is rolling out to users in Chile, Greece and Vietnam, Facebook confirmed. However, it is not available to users in all markets. The feature was first tested among users in Ireland in January [...] [1]

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/15/facebook-stories-roll-out/

Facebook is well known for doing A/B testing. I'd reckon most of your friends didn't yet have it.

Am I right in thinking that these are completely separate to the Instagram stories?

They are trying to kill Snapchat by coping it repeatedly in all their products. Pretty interesting strategy and I suspect it may work. Sort of feels like Google's desparate G+ attempt to clone Facebook.

It does feel a bit hacked onto the main Facebook experience though.

What makes you think it will work? G+ is like the poster child for fighting the wrong way, a technically more advanced product that lacked the user base, and thus the point, of Facebook. Isn't Facebook doing the same thing with Snapchat, where the different user base is the real draw, not the tech?

The difference is that Facebook already has a captive audience and G+ never did.

But, as a sibling comment suggested, it has the wrong audience: your mother, your coworkers, and your ex.

Yes, Google doesn't have an audience...

G+ is a poster child, but G+ is a horrible product. It was an entirely a whole new application of its own, so comparing that to Stories is pretty awkward. The Stories is integrated within the main Facebook user experience. It's literally showing up as another feature on the main site/main app.

> G+ is a horrible product.

Specifically how? The only reason I don't use it is that Facebook has all of the users.

G+ has circles, which I really wish Facebook had. AFAIK, G+ doesn't have a constant sidebar with targeted ads like Facebook does.

Why do these corporations each want to kill each other as an end goal? Why can't they innovate in their own space and collaborate?

I think it's because they are built on two different platforms that it would not make economic sense to interoperate.

Compare that to open source.

I think it's like a prisoner's dilemma -- if FB doesn't try to kill off SC, then SC will kill off FB. But it's like a one-off prisoner's dilemma, because this is two corporations that assume that both won't be around forever, so they don't care about building a nice long-term relationship for themselves.

Honestly, I could see the same thing happening in open source, though you're right, it doesn't seem to very much at all.

That does seem to be implied by the article.

Do these stories sync with those in Messenger? Seems weird if it doesn't but there's no mention in TFA.

It appears that stories in Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Messenger are all completely separate from each other. If you want to post to all Facebook products and Snapchat, you'll have to do it five times.

edit: Facebook and Messenger may be linked. oops. Well, if you wanted to post to all Facebook products stories and Whatsapp, you'd have to post four times; tons of redundancy remains.

That's pretty goofy. I don't use all of those, but of the group Facebook and Messenger are the most directly tied so it'd make sense to sync, or more succinctly just make it the same product.

I get the appeal of stories and I may actually use it, but I think their shotgun approach is a bit too unfocused.

Facebook is trying hard to make Messenger a separate product from Facebook.

I believe (though I'm not certain) that Facebook and Messenger's Stories clones are the same data

I got access to the Facebook version, and as far as I can tell they are not linked. I added a photo to Facebook stories and it didn't show up in Messenger.

That's an annoying move.

What's the difference between a regular facebook post and a "story"? It auto-deletes in 24 hours. Is that the only difference? Why would anyone care? I don't get it.

When you view your story it auto plays all posts in the last 24 hours in a kind of video reel.as for the point of the 24 delete it means people can post less important things they wouldn't usually bother posting. For example they could post 10 items in a day without clogging friends news feeds.

this is what a dying company looks like. fb is such a smorgasbord of features as is, putting more in really isn't the way forward.

A dying company with annual net income of $10B, okay.

I'd love to be running a business that is failing at 10B a year net income!

I'm talking about cultural relevance. AOL still has a revenue of $700M btw.

Yes because Aol is a media publisher now. What's your point? Facebook is a dying company because it's not "cool" anymore? That's not really an objective measurement.

I have been wishing this to be true during the better part of the last decade. Unfortunately for me, Facebook has reached a critical mass, and its black hole holds all those I know captive.

The only app on my phone that's not trying to copycat Snapchat is Termux.

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