Facebook and Instagram forgot to steal Snapchat’s main feature

Instagram Stories is Google+

Facebook and Instagram forgot to steal Snapchat’s main feature

Facebook and Instagram forgot to steal Snapchat’s most obvious advantage

If you listened to the tech press you’d think Snapchat was already dead.

There’s some Verge nerd claiming that Instagram has better design, ‘influencer’ Casey Neistat acting like Instagram is still relevant, Gizmodo writing that Instagram Stories ‘kicks its ass’. It goes on and on.

In reality Instagram Stories is Snapchat’s Google+. It misses the point of Snapchat entirely.

For one, as a side-note, Snapchat’s UI is better than Instagram’s, despite what people who don’t use Snapchat say.

Snapchat is the camera app. You open it up and bam, you’re ready to shoot. It’s simple. There’s no video mode. Just one UI for photos and videos. I literally forgot what the iOS camera app looked like before starting this post because Snapchat is my camera app now.

Instagram’s UI theft means the app isn’t too different in this regard, but the Instagram app still opens to your feed, not your camera. Stories are dumb and strapped on, not a core part of the app. It shows people’s avatars, not a peek at their story. And so far the only person on my Instagram using Instagram Stories is a brand, The Project, which is another call-back to Google+. People I know don’t use Instagram Stories yet.

And that’s because Instagram Stories is a privacy nightmare. Sorry, starting to sound like Gizmodo there. A better way to put it is this: Instagram isn’t built for privacy.

Snapchat is entirely based around sending photos and videos to specific people. Even the act of curating your friends list relates to this. You add people who you’d want to see your worst My Story and your worst snaps. I send the worst shit to Snapchat because I know that my friends list is built for it.

By comparison Instagram is built for sharing the best things publicly. And that’s not a bad thing. There’s room for an app like that. But their privacy options are dumb and broken, and because it’s built for good stuff I have a bunch of people on it who are too-good for my Snap Story.

Instagram’s sharing options are very direct. You can’t just suddenly share one post publicly and one post privately. It’s either public or private. My Instagram friends list is built for this too. I only share nice things to Instagram, pretty photos or ‘achievements’ or big ‘Thanks for coming to my party’ posts. Most ‘brand’ accounts upload DSLR-like shots now too, which furthers my point of Instagram being about perfection. Just look at Taylor Swift’s feed. It’s like a magazine, not a Snapchat feed of shitty phone shots.

Snapchat is built for really shitty but personal videos and photos. It opens to the camera view because it doesn’t want you to think about framing or whether your pic is a square or a rectangle. You just shoot whatever’s happening and don’t worry about filters or who might accidentally stumble upon it.

They’re different apps for different things. But Instagram Stories tries to unnaturally force stories onto my Instagram friends list and thats dumb. I can’t see people who aren’t brands ever using it to share things that aren’t perfect and inauthentic.

If Facebook wanted to rip off Snapchat they should’ve done it in Messenger. Snapchat is a messaging app. Messenger is a messaging app, and it’s the only Facebook app I use religiously like Snapchat.

I only talk to people I care about on Messenger. I only send snaps to people I care about on Snapchat.

And even though Messenger Stories would be shared to hundreds of Facebook randos, I still have a firmer grasp over that friends list than my Instagram followers, which I swear contains a bunch of spambots and people I talked to once in high school. They could even let you only share it to your besties, or to a separate group, I dunno.

And I say this because, at the end of the day, Zuckerberg shouldn’t give up on ripping off Snapchat. Facebook has this huge advantage of having every single person in the world in its service. Snapchat doesn’t yet have that. But sharing on Facebook, just like Instagram, is tedious. You can either share a post publicly, to your entire friends list, or to groups of people that don’t make sense.

If Facebook wants to steal Snapchat’s thunder they should steal Snapchat’s very specific per-person sharing style.

Because until I can choose specific people and just huge buckets of people, Instagram and Facebook will just not make sense for authentic sharing. I don’t want to send drunk posts to my entire friends list. I don’t want to send it to nan, who is an Instagram follower. I just want to share it to my besties, to that girl I’m tuning, not to the whole world.