Home » Technology » How Stories Search makes Snapchat a real-time YouTube

Snapchat is shifting from a social network limited to content shared by people you follow to an ephemeral, real-time database of what’s going on now everywhere. Today Snapchat launched Search for Stories submitted to its public Our Stories. It makes Snapchat as deep as whatever the world is sharing, creating near-infinite rabbit holes to go down, and a stronger competitor for YouTube and Twitter.

That aligns exactly with Snap IPO strategy following the slow-down of user growth after the removal of auto-advance and the launch of Instagram Stories and Facebook’s other competing clones: Snapchat wants to be where some people spend tons of engagement time, rather than where everyone spends a little time.

It also sees Snapchat break one of its cardinal rules. User-generated content is no longer limited to a lifespan of 24 hours. A Snapchat spokesperson confirms to TechCrunch that some Snaps submitted to Our Stories that appear in the new Search feature will be visible for less than a day to up to a few weeks or even months.

If content around a theme is being submitted more rapidly, what’s seen in Search results will turn over more quickly, while themes that only get submissions every few days may see Snaps stay visible for longer to make sure there’s something to watch for the theme.

How Snapchat Stories Search works

In January, Snapchat opened the ability to submit to Our Story from people in certain locations, like big events, or at certain times, like Christmas, to everyone everywhere all the time. But this meant it was pulling in way more content than its human curators could package into specific, widely visible Our Stories like ones for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the NBA Finals.

Now, Snapchat is using algorithms to scan the caption text, time and visual elements found in Snaps submitted to Our Story and group them by theme. For example, it could pull out Snaps with the words “dog” or “puppy” in captions,…

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