Facebook continues to undergo the most contentious period in its history, as it struggles with the fallout from numerous scandals related to data privacy, misinformation, and fake news, as well as larger issues around the social network’s corrosive role in democratic societies.
But as young users abandon the platform for the hipper Instagram and the site’s reputation keeps taking a hit, one key feature has remained absolutely vital: events. Facebook is still the best place to organize a calendar of social events, birthdays, concerts, and other real-world meetups, thanks to the existing social graph on Facebook and the fact that businesses and event organizers still largely treat it as the preeminent promotion platform. For an older user like myself, the event-related features are why I’m still using Facebook beyond Messenger.
So it makes sense then that Facebook would turn to Events as the next destination for its Stories product. The company said today that it plans to start testing a way “to share the events you’re interested in and coordinate to meet up with friends IRL” using Stories. The test will take place in the US, Brazil, and Mexico, and it should be available for mobile users on both iOS and Android.
Unlike your standard Stories feature, which Facebook initially cribbed from Snapchat for use on Instagram to help it become exceptionally more popular, this specific implementation is designed to share the details of an event with your friends. That way, you can see who may want to come to an upcoming show or some other activity that has a corresponding event page. The stories will come with tappable stickers for revealing event details, and friends can toggle themselves as “interested” or “going” to the event right from within the story. There’s also a link to the event page built in and a way to start a group chat on Messenger with friends who responded.
To be fair, for as uninteresting as Stories can be outside of Instagram, this is actually a very smart strategy that remixes the conventional format and does something genuinely useful with it. The issue, of course, is convincing your friends to actually check Facebook Stories, which, for most people, is a secondary priority after their Instagram or Snap Story or it’s not used at all. (Inexplicably, Facebook says its Stories products for the main Facebook app and Messenger have a combined 300 million daily users, yet not a single one of my friends appears to use it.) But I could see this being one of the more successful attempts Facebook has deployed throughout its seemingly never-ending quest to make Stories happen in the main mobile app.