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Instagram steps up Snapchat rivalry with live streaming service and disappearing messages

Instagram is joining the live-video streaming game, stepping up its rivalry with Snapchat.

Similar to Facebook’s popular Facebook Live feature, it’s relatively easy to start a broadcast: just tap the camera icon and swipe over to the “live” tab and click the “start Live video” button. As with a Facebook Live video, an indicator at the top of your screen will signal that you’re broadcasting and provide an indication of the number of people tuning in. Users can comment and “heart”, or like, your videos as well.

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Those who follow you and interact with you on the service will see a notification that you are live, just as they would on Facebook.

Unlike Facebook Live, however, Facebook-owned Instagram will delete the videos from your story once the broadcast is over – a feature that makes it more like rival Snapchat than its parent.

Instagram Live has been added as part of an update to Instagram Stories, Instagram’s take on Snapchat’s popular feature that lets users share photos and videos publicly to all of their followers. The company has also added an “Explore” tab so that its 500 million users can view other live videos on the service. In a blog post announcing the update, the company said more than 100 million people use Stories.

Instagram is also adding the ability for messages sent directly to friends and groups to disappear, and updating the Instagram Direct messaging service to look more like Snapchat.

Both services are competing to own the youth demographic that’s flocked to Snapchat’s selfie-oriented messages, which have a short life and can be doctored by playful filters.

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Snapchat parent Snap, reported to be planning an IPO next year that would value it at US$25 billion, has shown a deft hand at creating buzz – would-be customers lined up for hours at a pop-up store in New York last week to buy a pair of its video-recording sunglasses.

Groups are Instagram’s big differentiator from Snapchat’s messaging system, allowing you to quickly message multiple friends together and see if they’ve viewed your posts as well as their responses.

Snapchat allows you to send a picture to multiple people, though any responses remain between you and the person you are messaging.

And while Snapchat will let you send messages to those who don’t follow you directly, Instagram will require that the person to whom you are sending the disappearing message follows your account.