There are eight initial “face filters”: Gold Crown, Koala, Nerd Glasses, Bunny, Butterfly Crown, Ice Crown, Peacock and Makeup. If any of these sound familiar, it’s because they were poached directly from that little white ghost’s fluttery fingers. (Does it strike anyone else as eerily foreboding that Snapchat’s icon is a dead spirit?)
In response to accusations of copying, an Instagram spokesperson said, “There’s a lot of exciting work being done around augmented reality. We’ve heard from our community that they want more creative ways to share everyday moments and engage with friends. With face filters, they have more tools than ever at their fingertips, and all in one place.”
It’s a dodge for sure, but I’m not super salty about Instagram copying Snapchat, mainly because Instagram Stories are just so much better. I am fully ready to declare Snapchat obsolete. I stopped using it almost entirely when Instagram Stories started rolling out vastly superior features such as the ability to pause a story or rewind. Every improvement was like aloe vera on a sunburn. Why would I go back to the regular old sunburn?
But I’m speaking from the perspective of an ancient, one who is well past puberty. The minds of teens are different. I know this because I recently asked one what websites she reads every day and she looked at my like I’d just asked her how often she voluntarily drinks expired dairy milk.
“I just click on links in my Facebook news feed or in Instagram bios,” she said. “I don’t go to websites.” That’s when I realized my daily practice of typing www.manrepeller.com into my internet browser belongs in one of those corded-off displays at the Museum of Natural History.
I was immediately curious as to how teenagers would respond to Instagram Stories’ new feature, so I reached out to a few to glean fresh teen takes.
“Certain aspects of Instagram Stories, like Boomerangs, have really taken off, but I don’t think kids are forgetting Snapchat at all,” said 17-year-old Olivia. “It’s still the OG of filters, and although Instagram filters are neat and cool, Snapchat is a completely different kind of social platform. I don’t think either one will be completely forgotten! We use Instagram stories more, but we use the filters on Snapchat more. Does that make sense? We enjoy Snapping more, but if we have something we wanna share with everyone on social media, we choose Instagram stories because we like the Boomerang effect so much.”
15-year-old Caroline agrees that Snapchat isn’t going anywhere. “I use Snapchat every day and have long Snapchat streaks with at least 10 people,” she said. “My friends don’t use Insta stories at all. Snapchat stories are more casual because I follow fewer people on Snapchat. If I put something on an Insta story, I know it has to be really good because over 500 followers will see it.”
I sourced a third opinion because third teen’s the charm, right? “I think Instagram’s new filters are fine and it doesn’t really bother me that they are blatantly copying Snapchat,” said 15-year-old Luke. “I think everyone still uses Snapchat and there is no way for Instagram to completely replicate Snapchat.”
So, to conclude: The teen take on Snapchat’s fate is incredibly murky. PSYCH. Teens are so loyal these days. The subtext of their responses seems to indicate that Snapchat still has the upper hand when it comes to more intimate exchanges, while Instagram and Instagram Stories are reserved for “polished” dispatches. I’m curious how much longer that will remain the status quo, though. While relatively new compared to Snapchat, Instagram’s “direct messaging” feature performs essentially the same function in terms of tailoring your audience. Maybe it just needs a little time to catch up. At the rate Instagram Stories has been rolling out Snapchat (but better) improvements, I’m finding it harder and harder to credit the app with much staying power. But that could just be my 25-year-old cynicism talking.
Collage by Maria Jia Ling Pitt.