Instagram’s ephemeral live Stories are coming to the Explore tab. Starting today, you’ll be able to browse Stories by their location or their hashtag, as long as they were shared from a public account. It’s a feature that will show off the massive amount of photos and videos being shared around the world every day on Instagram. And, as with most Story-related features, it’s an idea Snapchat had first.
Starting today, you’ll see new “rings” at the top of the Explore feed showing you Stories taking place near your physical location — a city, for example. Tap into it and you’ll see public stories that were tagged with that location (“San Francisco”). If you want to hide an individual post from search, go to the list of story viewers and tap ‘X’ on the Story.
Instagram’s twist on the search is to enable it for hashtags as well as locations. Search #ootd to browse other peoples outfits of the day, for example, or #fromwhereirun to marvel at the self-absorption of joggers. Hashtag search will be available in “coming weeks,” the company said.
In a brief test of Story search, I found it to be a fun way to teleport around the world and watch people goof off. If you’re a student of the Great Story Wars of 2017, the most notable thing about today’s launch is that Instagram’s story search is global from the start. Snap announced Story search March 31st in “select cities” but refused to say which cities those were; it didn’t roll out to San Francisco, where I live, until this weekend. Which is to say that Snapchat users may see Story search on Instagram before they see it on Snapchat.