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Facebook Stories still aren’t being used widely, but the social network is nonetheless committed to experimenting with new ways to distribute them.
Now, Facebook is testing a new mobile feature that would combine Stories and News Feed posts in a swipeable carousel of sorts. This is all according to software engineer and researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who recently tweeted about being part of the test.
The carousel, if rolled out to all Facebook users, would turn the social network’s traditional vertical-scrolling News Feed into something closer to Instagram Stories — with regular posts and Stories being given equal placement in the feed.
In a tweet shared by Wong, a progress bar crawls along the top of the screen and the app automatically moves to the next status update or Story when it’s done, much like Instagram Stories. Wong found this in the Facebook Android app and tweeted video footage of it in action.
Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that the feature was in early testing, but there’s no indication this will ever go public, much less become the new normal. Instagram users might remember an incident in December when the app’s main screen suddenly worked the same way as the Facebook test Wong found.
That turned out to be a mistake and Instagram went back to normal.
Still, it’s not hard to see why Facebook might be interested in such an idea. Facebook clearly wants people to make and watch more Stories, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitting last year that the feature hadn’t grown as quickly as he would have liked.
Stories were popular enough on Snapchat that Instagram copied the concept to great success. Facebook makes a significant amount of ad money from Instagram Stories, so it makes sense that it would want the same for its flagship app.
The smart move might be to make this feature available, but optional, so as not to alienate users who have been using Facebook’s more traditional news feed for a decade or more.