If there’s one thing we all believe that we should be entitled to do, it’s to engage in a little bit of harmless social stalking. It’s just ‘research’ right? Just ‘checking up’ on what that particularly attractive friend of yours has been up to, just out of pure innocent interest. Yes, yes, that’s definitely all it is.
But Instagram has decided to crack down on all of you creepy people out there by unveiling an alarming (unless you don’t do it, which we definitely don’t. Definitely.) new feature which sends a notification to users when someone screenshots their image.
But before you break into a cold sweat worrying if you’ve inadvertently alerted people to your browsing activities, keep in mind that the feature only applies to when you screenshot someone’s disappearing photo or video so either someone’s live video, or a disappearing message, sent via your DMs.
The disappearing photo or video feature is slowly being rolled out to users at the moment.
Back in August this year Instagram introduced Stories – photos and videos which would disappear after 24 hours. And a week ago it began to roll out live video – different to Facebook’s version in that you can only watch video, no replays here – and the aforementioned disappearing messages, which can only be watched twice by people you send them to.
Both features are very Snapchatty – and Snapchat has a similar feature which notifies people when their videos have been screenshotted – to discourage people from doing so.
So to be clear – screenshotting a ‘normal’ Instagram shot or video, you’re still fine. Phew, what a relief (not for us).
The move is yet another step towards Instagram’s attempt to ape the best features of its long-term rival Snapchat, which Facebook tried to buy in 2013 for the princely sum of $3bn – which was turned down.
As Instagram’s head of product Kevin Weil put it: “Instagram should be all of your moments, not just your highlights.”
And why do Facebook want to copy Snapchat? Well, Snapchat’s success has been founded on the fact that it’s a space where users are free from the pressures of having to attract likes, or positive comments, or generally be judged – hence why they don’t want people to be able to hang on to the content that is posted. It’s more fleeting and spontaneous, and therefore has terrific engagement from its users. After its failure to buy the upstart, Facebook has instead just attempted to move Instagram onto Snapchat’s turf. Ironically, Snapchat has, at the same time, been trying to move itself into a more ‘permanent’ sphere as this is better for advertising, and engaging a larger cross-section of users.
But enough of that – just be careful what you screenshot from now on if you want to avoid some tricky moments with your friends.