Imagine: You’re on Instagram, just like any other normal day. Scrolling, refreshing the feed, liking and commenting.
Then, a new notification: Your crush has uploaded a new story. You click on the little purple and orange circle, and wow, they look really cute. You want to be able to keep this story forever, but you don’t want your crush to think you’re creepy, and they’ll know if you take a screenshot.
If the above situation has ever applied to you, rejoice, because today is a happy day. Instagram has confirmed that they are eliminating the feature that notifies users about anyone who has screen-shotted their story. Essentially, the user will have no idea who has pictures that they took of them from their story specifically, the same way you can screenshot a post and no one would know.
The change comes from Instagram after they introduced the story feature in August 2016. Many people accused the photo-sharing app of stealing ideas from one of its largest competitors, Snapchat. Snapchat stories are the app’s trademark and one of its most widely used features.
But, despite users’ initial skepticism, the story feature seems to have greatly paid off for Instagram’s popularity. According to TechCrunch, just two months after Instagram launched the new feature, 100 million people were using it.
Consequently, Snapchat’s growth saw a sharp decline during the months after Instagram announced stories. According to its IPO, Snapchat admitted, “The growth in Daily Active Users was relatively flat in the latter part of the quarter ended September 30, 2016.” Lack of interest from the story creator’s user base appears to be due to its latest competitor.
Eliminating screenshot notifications is a way for Instagram to distinguish themselves further. All the same, it’s tough to imagine that very many people will be too excited about it considering the fact that it’s pretty convenient if you’re the stalker, but not the other way around. Personally, the idea of anyone having a random screen-grab of me saved to their phone is pretty uncomfortable.
The issue of anonymity goes beyond favorable tech reporting — it’s an issue of privacy. A difficult debate surrounds whether or not a user has a right to know if their content is being screenshotted. Although it facilitates the ability to share the wealth of a particularly good post, it has the potential to be extremely creepy.
Is the fault on the screenshotter or on the user, for posting something they didn’t want someone else to permanently possess?
I think it’s a little bit of both. Personally, I’m unable to separate the idea of an anonymous screengrabber from the uneasy feeling of privacy invasion. I don’t think anyone posts anything with the intention of it remaining in an unknown phone’s archives forever.
On the other hand, I’d advise Instagram users to avoid posting anything if they know that it being screen-shotted would make them deeply uncomfortable or incriminate them.
Everyone knows that one person who overshares on their stories, but if you don’t want just anybody saving your content, it may be wise to err on the conservative side.