In what is a major blow to Snap Inc.’s (SNAP) disappearing messaging app Snapchat, Facebook (FB) has made its "Stories" feature public, giving influencers and celebrities another reason to use the social media network.
When the company first rolled out Facebook Stories back in March, the photos and videos that disappear after a while were only seen by friends in a user's network. The public setting was rolled out a couple of weeks ago, Facebook just confirmed to TechCrunch.
The new option is aimed at encouraging users to migrate from Snapchat, the same way they did when Facebook-owned Instagram launched Instagram Stories. While it was a blatant copy, it's been hugely successful, boasting 250 million monthly active users, compared to Snap’s 166 million. Instagram has faced criticism for seemingly stealing the idea, but back in March, chief executive of Instagram Kevin Systrom defended the practice in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, arguing it’s a form of competition.
“Stories is definitely similar to Snapchat. I think anyone would say that. The first time you see a product show up somewhere else it feels a lot like copying but imagine a world where the only car was the Ford Model T,” said Systrom. “I’m really glad there are a lot of car companies producing different cars. Just because they have wheels and windows and AC doesn’t mean that you’re copying.” (See more: Downward Pressure on Snap Stock Will Continue.)
Snap has been under huge pressure in recent weeks with concerns rising over its ability to grow revenue and shares that have fallen way below the IPO price. If Facebook is successful with the public feature, it's yet another reason why celebrities and influencers no longer have to use Snapchat. What’s more, the move could help Facebook reach its next 1 billion users after surpassing 2 billion earlier this summer. Hitting 3 billion isn’t going to be as easy. (See more: Facebook Hits 2B Users: Will China Get It to 3B?)
Making Facebook Stories public may lure a whole new class of content creators including journalists and influencers to the social media platform and thus boost the number of users.