Q. I keep getting Instagram alerts on my phone that say someone has updated a “story.” What exactly is an Instagram story?
A. Instagram, primarily known as a social network for sharing smartphone camera photos in a square format, added a feature called Stories in 2016. Stories are basically temporary compilations of photos and videos on a theme, like a visit to a theme park. You add to the collection over the course of the day and can annotate the material with text, virtual stickers and digital doodles. Instead of posting multiple pictures and clips separately, where your friends might miss some of them, you can start a Story that lets all the content be viewed in one place.
To see a Story in the Instagram mobile app, tap the house icon in the lower-left corner of the screen to go to the Feed page. Stories shared by accounts you follow appear at the top of the screen, so tap a profile icon to see the content. The app automatically moves to the next Story in your feed unless you tap the X in the corner to stop.
If you want to start your own Story, tap your own profile icon in the top-left corner of the Feed page. The Instagram camera app appears, inviting you to snap, annotate and add the first photo or video to your Story. You can then repeat this process throughout the day.
Stories can be a concise way to share scenes from a nature hike, a parade or some other activity. After 24 hours, a Story disappears from view, although you can archive it to your account or save any of the photos or videos to your phone’s camera roll. The Instagram Help Center has more information on using the Stories feature, including how to configure your privacy settings.
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