Facebook’s new Snapchat-like “Stories” format could be about to completely transform your News Feed, if the latest scoop from app researcher Jane Manchun Wong comes to fruition.
Wong, who habitually reverse-engineers apps to discover features being tested before they’re actually revealed to the public, shared this news via Twitter this morning. In the tweet below, you can see normal Facebook posts that are swipeable from right to left, as opposed to the normal vertical scrolling feed.
This test comes on the heels of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg making a widely publicized declaration that the future will see Facebook shift its emphasis away from the public permanence of the scrolling News Feed. Replacing it would be a focus on private messaging and the Snapchat-inspired “Stories” format taking center stage.
Facebook is testing to turn News Feed into Story Feed pic.twitter.com/83H7VWcgmD
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 15, 2019
To be sure, Facebook as of the time of this writing has not yet commented on the status of this experiment. The important thing to note here is that normal feed posts are slotted into the same swipeable carousel as the disappearing “Stories” that have been slower to catch on within the main Facebook app as much as they have within Instagram, where they’ve helped massively grow the overall usage of the photo-sharing app — and, more importantly, stunted Snapchat’s growth.
It’s also important to note that, at least according to the prototype of the user interface that Wong came across, you can still “like” and comment and do the other things to a Facebook post that you can normally, even with the posts existing inside the new carousel.
Former Facebook executive Chris Cox had previously predicted that the Stories formal will overtake all sharing of in-feed posts sometime this year. That forecast may be a bit aggressive, but it does underscore that yet another paradigm shift is at hand for Facebook, a company that pulled off an improbable shift to mobile around the time of its IPO that completely shifted its fortunes.
From Facebook’s perspective, though, the risks in shifting to a new Stories-centric model are manifold. For example, ads — and the way Facebook makes money from them — will have to be rethought in a world where content is either mostly private or ephemeral.