As Facebook (FB) feverishly added new features to its most valuable properties in recent months to better compete against Snapchat, the company often faced accusations it was simply copying its fast-growing rival rather than deliver anything original.
With its latest moves, Facebook is changing this narrative some, and doing so through the property that's arguably best-positioned to slow Snapchat's momentum.
Less than four months after Instagram launched its Stories feature -- like the Snapchat feature bearing the same name, it lets users share streams of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours -- it has updated Stories to support live video broadcasts that last up to an hour. But unlike Facebook proper's much-hyped live video service, Instagram's live videos aren't saved and thus can't be replayed.
Instagram is also launching a feature that competes head-on with Snapchat's original claim to fame: The ability to use the Instagram Direct messaging service to send photos and videos to friends and groups that disappear after being viewed twice. The sender is able to see if a message has been viewed or if a screenshot has been taken.
Neither feature should struggle to find an audience: Instagram says the number of monthly Direct users has soared to 300 million from 80 million over the last year, and Stories -- prominently displayed on the home page of Instagram's app -- topped 100 million daily active users (DAUs) in early October. For comparison, Instagram claimed 500 million monthly active users (MAUs) as of June, up from 300 million in December 2014.