[Update: Testing confirmed] Facebook is testing changes to News Feed that combines it with Stories

[Update: Testing confirmed] Facebook is testing changes to News Feed that combines it with Stories

Update 1 (4/15/19 @ 1:19 PM ET): Shortly after this article was published, Facebook confirmed that they are indeed testing “a new way to navigate News Feed posts.” Facebook tells TechCrunch that they are not testing this publicly at this time.

Stories was introduced by Snapchat as a way to showcase moments for a limited time with a certain circle of users. The feature worked in tandem with the rather temporary and private nature of Snapchat’s conventional snaps and videos, providing for a more public story-sharing experience. The feature was appreciated by users, so much so that other apps began copying the feature like it was the best thing to happen since sliced bread. Instagram got Stories, WhatsApp got Stories, Facebook got Stories, YouTube got Stories, Google Search got Stories, Google AMP got Stories, and practically every app which had a “social” element within it got a feature similar to Stories. Now, Facebook may be taking this to the next level by testing out a change that merges the conventional News Feed with the Story Feed.

As revealed by Ms. Jane Manchun Wong, known in the Twitterverse for her reverse engineering skills, Facebook is testing out a change that combines the News Feed into the Stories feature.

As demonstrated in the attached gif, this change would turn every individual post in your News Feed into a six-second story post, complete with its funky transition animation. This change would take away the scrolling from the News Feed and change it into an auto-flipping carousel of content. The News Feed and Story Feed are merged within the Story Feed, so content from both the formats will be displayed in one standard stream, with little differentiation as per our prima-facie observation. One still retains the ability to comment, react, and share the post.

Facebook merging News Feed with Story Feed

The UI also combines the Sponsored Ads from the Timeline within the same stream. So what you end up with is a hot ball of mess in terms of content. Adding a six-second timer (or forcing the user to hold down on the display to keep the image in focus) to News Feed posts defeats the utility of the News Feed for longer content. It isn’t immediately clear if the News Feed content would “expire” as Stories do; if it does, no difference may even remain between the two.

Do note that this feature is in testing, and it may or may not roll out to the public. Hopefully, Facebook considers the feedback from its users before considering a wider rollout to the public. Facebook appears to be yielding to the demands of the public as it is considering bringing back chat features into the Facebook app, so maybe the decision makers listen to feedback on this feature too.

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