Snap Inc on Friday said its Snapchat messaging app would add an option for users to search through photos and videos that users have publicly posted.
The move comes just days after larger rival Facebook Inc stepped up efforts to encourage users to take more photos and edit them with digital stickers, showing Snapchat’s influence.
The app is to enable users to search for photos and videos known as “Snaps” posted to the “Our Story” option, by creating new “Stories” using machine learning technology, the company said in a blog post.
The Our Story option is derived from Snap’s widely copied Stories feature that is a slideshow of user content that disappears after 24 hours.
Our Story allows users to post their Snaps as part of a larger public collection, which users would be able to search through with the latest update.
For instance, users could use the search feature to find Snaps related to events such as local basketball games and topics such as puppies.
The search feature — which is to be rolled out in some cities starting on Friday — is an addition to curated Stories, where public Snaps about major events like Wimbledon or the Coachella music festival already appear.
Snapchat popularized the sharing of digitally decorated photographs on social media, especially among teenagers, but faces intense competition from Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram.
Users would now be able to search for more than 1 million Stories on Snapchat, Snap said, making the app more accessible.
Separately, Palmer Luckey, the co-founder of Facebook’s Oculus virtual-reality business, is leaving the company.
Facebook did not give a reason for Luckey’s departure. His last day is to be on Friday.
Luckey, 24, is leaving the company on the heels of controversies. Earlier this year, a federal jury found that Oculus VR LLC, Luckey and co-founder Brendan Iribe violated the intellectual property rights of video game maker ZeniMax Media Inc. The jury awarded US$500 million in damages, including US$50 million from Luckey.
Luckey was also criticized for a donation of US$10,000 to a pro-US President Donald Trump group called Nimble America, which created offensive memes online during last year’s election season.
Facebook bought Oculus in 2014 for US$2 billion. Oculus makes the stand-alone Rift virtual-reality headset along with the Gear VR headset for Samsung Electronics Co.
Additional reporting by AP
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