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Instagram launches location and hashtag stories

If you’re prone to the sensation known as the “fear of missing out,” you might want to pass on Instagram’s latest feature.

The photo and video sharing app on Tuesday launched location and hashtag stories, allowing users to search for a location, such as Santa Monica, or a hashtag, such as #dimsum, and view a related collection of publicly shared videos that Instagram users have recorded over the last 24 hours.

The collections, also known as “stories,” are selected by an algorithm and serve as a portal to other places so users can see what people around the world are doing, said Blake Barnes, Instagram’s director of product.

Instagram originally launched as an app where people could publish photos and videos. Last year, the company introduced the “stories” feature, in which users could publish photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. While the app already allows searching for location and hashtag-specific photos and videos, the functionality was until Tuesday limited to content that users posted to their main feed. Tuesday’s feature, on the other hand, trawls the ephemeral videos users publish to stories and, if they’re tagged with location or hashtag data, adds them to a master story.

In a demo of the new feature, Barnes performed a search for Tokyo, which pulled up a stream of photos Instagram users had taken and tagged with the city’s name.

The videos users see will be determined by a number of factors, Barnes said, such the kinds of videos they’ve viewed in the past, as well as the popularity of a clip.

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because Snap Inc., the Los Angeles company that went public in March, has an app called Snapchat that does the same thing. In fact, Snapchat launched location and hashtag stories in early 2015, although its video collections were at the time curated by humans. This March, the company launched a version of location stories curated by an algorithm.

Since the launch of Instagram Stories, the Facebook-owned company has been on a tear, copying tools Snapchat popularized, such as face filters, and growing the number of people who use the feature to more than 200 million.

tracey.lien@latimes.com

Twitter: @traceylien

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