Social Media Platforms Testing Privacy

Whether you call it stalking or as a coping mechanism researching, all social media users have been guilty at some point of delving too deep into someone’s profile. Recently however social media sites have been making this hard to do discreetly. 

Facebook owned apps Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp have become increasingly similar as they’ve evolved and integrated with one another. Instagram, being the latest to introduce changes to how the app works in a very snapchat inspired feature. Screenshots trigger notifications on Snapchat and will now do in the same manner on Instagram. Notifications which are sent when a screenshot of a private message is taken are now set to be used for Instagram stories too. Tests on the new feature which lets followers know if you’ve taken a screenshot of a story are currently being trialled in Japan. This is following another new feature on the app which lets people know how long you’ve been logged in and when you were last active. This was introduced in a quiet and perhaps sneaky manner for users. It meant by default friends could see when you were online to read their message feeds. 

The new features are perhaps a little unnerving for Instagram’s users but there is some room for initiative. The first screenshot will only show a warning to stop you from taking another and avoiding a potentially embarrassing notification. As if accidently tapping twice on your ex’s pictures wasn’t enough to worry about. 

Screenshots on Instagram were introduced in 2016 with private disappearing messages, which would disappear and trigger the screenshot and notification feature. This of course being one of key characteristics of the Snapchat app.  A year later Instagram drew more inspiration from Snapchat as they introduced the chance to archive stories. This baring a striking resemblance to the Snapchat memories feature launched over a year in advance.  Although Snapchat is a successful app, could competing with it be a good strategy for Instagram? Especially seeing as the difference between each app is slowly being diminished.  Taking away the users privacy could take away the experience and fun of using the site along with it. It might not be an exaggeration to say a new feature in the coming years could well be your web cam going live whenever you open the app. 

Most apps have been built from the ideas of the products that came before it. If social media apps didn’t get inspiration or copy there could only be so many ways they could be developed. Many apps have feeds, image filters, hashtags, profiles and instant messaging. Is Instagram’s decision to copy Snapchat Stories an honourable or sustainable move? Instagram’s VP of product Kevin Weill says: ‘’If we’re being honest with ourselves, this is the way the tech industry works. Good ideas start in one place, and they spread across the entire industry. Kudos to Snapchat for being the first to Stories, but it’s a format and it’s going to be adopted widely across a lot of different platforms.’’ 

Facebook can copy any new app or site on an idea and that would be seen as the nature of the tech industry, which is for there’s and the consumers benefit.  Copying and repeating ideas however could discourage start-ups to the point that there will be no one left to copy.