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Snapchat Gets Deeper Into Live Events, Wants More User-Generated Content

Snapchat is expanding its Live Stories feature and may want to get into "breaking news."

Michael Tran/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Snapchat is pushing harder into live events, and it’s relying on its user base to hand over more content in the process.

Snapchat is expanding its Live Stories feature as part of an app update Monday to get more user-generated content into each story. The idea is that when multiple people upload content of the same real-life moment — say, the game-winning shot at a basketball game — Snapchat was typically showing just one of those videos from just one angle. Now, users can swipe on their phone screen when watching a Live Story to see different angles of the same exact moment.

Here’s a YouTube video Snapchat created to help explain how the new feature — called Story Explorer — works.

It feels like a relatively small change, but it matters for a couple reasons. First, it brings more user-generated content into the app, which gives users more incentive to share videos and photos to Snapchat’s Live Stories product, which equals more engagement. More content also provides more digital real estate on which to sell advertising.

It’s also the first time Snapchat has ventured into computer-generated content curation. Once a snap is selected by one of Snapchat’s Story editors, “advanced computer vision technology” will be used to find other snaps of the same moment at different angles, a spokesperson wrote in an email to Re/code. Facebook and Twitter have ventured into algorithm-based curation with varying degrees of success, and now Snapchat appears to be taking that road, too.

For now, these stories tend to be centered around events like the American Music Awards, but Snapchat hinted in its blog post that it may also take a swipe at Twitter’s strength: Breaking news. Snapchat believes the update may help users “feel like you’re right there on the scene when breaking news unfolds.” People can already watch more evergreen content on Snapchat via its Discover publishers. Perhaps they’ll be getting their news there someday soon, too.

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