In the world of social networking, a big risk is always that some newer, hipper company will come along and steal the next generation of users. Facebook did that to MySpace and now wants to keep Snapchat from doing it by rolling out Facebook Stories, which looks an awful lot like a Snapchat copycat.

Facebook stories
Image source: Facebook

Facebook Stories rolls over from Instagram

Facebook managed to keep a large chunk of the younger social media user set by acquiring the photo-centric Instagram, and then it started to add features that mimic the up-and-coming Snapchat—on Instagram. It probably didn’t take a lot of time to come up with Facebook Stories, given the nearly identical feature the company already has on Instagram, and it works pretty much the same way as Instagram Stores.

Users of Facebook’s mobile app simply open it up, and they’re greeted by a carousel of their friends’ Facebook Stories. That carousel can be found right above the News Feed. Snapchat’s main feature is messages that disappear after a period of time, and this is exactly how Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories work. In this case, the stories can be viewed for 24 hours, but after that, they disappear.

Facebook Stories only available to a small group of users for now

Currently the Facebook Stories feature is only in the testing phase and available to some users in Ireland, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see it. If or when the feature is rolled out more widely, users can add photos and videos to their own personal story and insert filters or other effects. Users can also flip through their friends’ personal stories by accessing them from the carousel at the top of their News Feed.

At this point, Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories are entirely separate, which makes sense given the former is still in a very limited test. However, hopefully the two features will be linked when it becomes permanent. It would make sense to do this because Instagram photos can be easily reposted to Facebook, so the same should be true of Stories on both networks.

Facebook also updates Trending Topics

Also today, Facebook announced some updates to that problematic Trending News section. After some media outlets blasted the social network last year, alleging favoritism toward liberal viewpoints, the company got rid of the humans that were running the show and handed control over to an algorithm. Unfortunately, fake news became a bigger problem with computers doing the heavy lifting, so now Facebook is rolling out three updates.

First, it is adding a publisher headline under each topic name in order to provide users more context. The social network said this feature was the most requested since the last update in August. Second, the company has improved the system used to figure out which topics are trending. While engagement (often on only one or two articles on a topic) was previously used as the measuring stick to determine what’s trending, now the network will group articles on the same topic. It will count the number of articles on a particular topic and the engagement around the group instead of a single article.

And third, Facebook will begin showing all users in the same region the same Trending News topics, meaning they are no longer personalized.