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Instagram

Instagram announced Tuesday it will now let users share "Stories," a feature it copied from Snapchat in 2016, to friends directly. Snapchat unveiled a similar feature in March that lets you create custom stories for groups. Instagram says the update will be rolling out globally over the coming weeks.

Why it matters: Instagram has captured a massive Stories audience since it launched the copycat feature last year, and most analysts would argue that it has put a dent in Snapchat's user growth. In June, Instagram Stories hit 250 million daily active users (DAUs), again surpassing Snapchat's 166 million DAUs, first reported during its earning's report in May.

Its efforts appear to be paying off.

  • Instagram surpassed Snapchat's number of daily active users less than a year after launching its Stories feature.
  • In August, Instagram revealed engagement stats that rivaled Snap. (Users under the age of 25 spend more than 32 minutes a day on Instagram, on average, while Users age 25+ spend more than 24 minutes a day, on average. Snapchat users spend an average of 30+ minutes daily on the app.)

Instagram COO Marne Levine conceded at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen earlier this year that they didn't invent the Stories format, but that their product offers a unique experience:

"We've acknowledged over and over again that we did not invent the Stories format," Levine said. "It's a great format and it works well in our community."

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
20 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Biden's plan to upend Trump's environmental legacy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will on Wednesday order a government-wide review of over 100 Trump-era policies and direct agencies to prepare a suite of emissions and energy efficiency rules.

Why it matters: New information from transition officials offers the full scope of Biden's imminent, inauguration-day burst of environmental and energy policy moves.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
21 mins ago - Health

The public health presidency

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Joe Biden will take office today facing a challenge none of his modern predecessors have had to reckon with — his legacy will depend largely on how well he handles a once-in-a-century pandemic that's already raging out of control.

The big picture: Public health tends to be relatively apolitical and non-controversial. The limelight in health care politics typically belongs instead to debates over costs and coverage. But that will all change for the Biden administration.

D.C. braces for economic hit from scaled-back inauguration

Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The days leading up to and including Inauguration Day typically generate $31.4 million in additional sales for D.C. businesses — but not this year.

Why it matters: Washington's economy is already suffering from pandemic-induced closures, and could very much use the revelry and tourist dollars that Inauguration Day brings — instead of the large bills that will pile up if there's further mayhem or if visitors continue to stay away.