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Facebook tests 'stories' tool in latest clone of rival Snapchat

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Facebook hasn’t been shy about copying Snapchat, its smaller social-media rival. Now it’s unveiling the biggest and boldest clone so far — a feature resembling Snapchat’s Stories, directly within the Facebook application.

Snapchat Stories are short annotated videos and photos that people post to their entire audience, viewable for 24 hours only.

The feature already was knocked off by Instagram, Facebook’s photo-sharing app, in August — and that version is now used by 150 million people daily, about as many as use the entire Snapchat application.

Facebook’s adoption means the tool will be exposed to a global audience of 1.8 billion people, including many who haven’t yet been introduced to Snapchat. That has the potential to stunt the smaller company’s growth just as parent Snap Inc. readies an initial public offering, expected as soon as March.

The social-media giant has a history of quickly replicating what Snapchat invents. For example, users also can send Snapchat-like ephemeral photos and videos in Messenger, Facebook’s chat app.

Last year, Facebook bought Masquerade, an app that puts fun filters and special effects on selfies and videos as Snapchat does.

Facebook, which is now testing the stories tool in Ireland and plans to roll it out more widely, didn’t cite Snapchat competition as a reason for adding it.

“The way people share today is different to five or even two years ago — it’s much more visual, with more photos and videos than ever before,” the company said in a statement. “Stories is another example of how we’re helping people share the way they want to.”

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