Instagram is copying Snapchat. Facebook Inc.’s app has a new feature that lets people share photos and videos that disappear, the defining feature of Snapchat. Users can write over the photos and add annotations — just like in Snapchat. The product lets people post photos or videos taken throughout their day in a slideshow form, just like Snapchat Stories. They vanish in 24 hours — just like Snapchat Stories. To make it totally clear, Instagram is calling its product Stories too.
“This is the latest step in putting video at the center of all our services,” Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in a post Tuesday, not mentioning Snapchat. “People are already creating and sharing more video, so we’re going to make it even easier.”
It’s not the first time Facebook has tried to go after its Los Angeles-based competitor. The company unsuccessfully tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013, people familiar with the matter said at the time. Facebook has launched two apps, Poke and Slingshot, that copied Snapchat’s basic functionality — both of which didn’t catch on. Instagram has even tried Snapchat-like features in the past for news events, creating streams of user posts related to live events like the Super Bowl and the Oscars, mimicking Snapchat’s “Live Story” product.
The move shows Facebook still feels threatened by its smaller competitor even as Instagram continues to grow quickly. Instagram has about 300 million daily active users, about double what Snapchat and even more established rival Twitter Inc. see.