Snapchat has rose to its popular usage amongst young adults due to the idea of sending an image that is ephemeral and will not be saved into the recipient’s photo album. However, when the recipient screenshots the image, the sender would also be notified that their image has been captured. This allows the sender to know whether or not the recipient has a copy of the image.
Kurt Wagner in his article “Could Snapchat become the Next Instagram?” talks about the new technological development of Snapchat. They have recently announced a new function on their popular app called Snapchat Stories, a function that allow users to save their pictures or clips that they took and put them on Stories. This allow users to save the ephemeral images for 24 hours in the chronological order that it was taken instead of the maximum 10 seconds that the timer will allow. Not only will you have access to them, but your friends will also be able to see your 24 hour Snapchat story.
Originally, the creators of Snapchat created this application because “the photos self-destruct after sending makes Snapchat a more natural way to send pictures you don’t want others to see.” However, due to social shaping mentioned by Nancy Baym in her book “Personal Connections in the Digital Age,” Snapchat has become a co-production where some users might not use it for the reasons the creators of Snapchat have created it for. Due to the technological affordance of screen-shotting on phones, it allows the receivers of the pictures to save a copy of it while alerting the sender. It also allows users to use Snapchat for sexting, where people send sexually provocative pictures of themselves to each other and not have to worry about the image being automatically saved into the phone’s photo album.
Wagner‘s informative article provides different insight as to Snapchat’s newest technological development, Snapchat Stories, and where Snapchat might be heading towards in the future, such as becoming the new Instagram. The article projects an idea that Wagner views Snapchat’s current developments as positive, and that it might become a new popular photography platform such as Instagram. He mentions that due to the introduction of Snapchat Stories, not only do the snaps have a longer lifespan, but they become public (to everyone on your friends list) and could be viewed unlimited times. The idea of the snaps being ephemeral would still exist, but the carefully and artistically crafted montage would have be available to public for 24 hours before it disappears.
This defeats the original purpose of Snapchat, where it was created for people to send photos of anything without the fear of having that picture saved to the recipient’s photo album. I know that the reason that my friends and I use Snapchat due to its technological affordances of limited time viewing and the pictures are not saved. Snapchat allows us to take any weird, unattractive, or obscene pictures that we want and send them to friends because of its ability to notify the sender when your friends screenshot it, and most of the time, the picture would be lost within the cyberspace of 0s and 1s after your friends have viewed it. As we carefully craft our online identities, we generally would not put anything we do not want the public to see online. Yet Snapchat provides us with this platform where pictures are not stored for future use. It allows us to convey our “true” selves where we can be whom we really are in real life without being scared that the picture would be public to everyone in our friends network.
Snapchat is a perfect example of Haythornthwaite‘s idea of media multiplicity because the recipients of our snaps are generally the people that are very close to us. They are people whom we have a stronger tie to, as we are willing to show them even the most obscure side of us on Snapchat. We wouldn’t be comfortable with sending obscure snaps to our “weak ties.” Yet, Snapchat Stories can help us maintain our weak ties and reinforce our strong ties since everyone that is on our Snapchat friends list would be able to view our Stories within the 24 hour time frame. According to Marwick and boyd in their article, “I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience,” we also have to acknowledge that not only do we have our imagined audience, who understands the message within the context, but we also have nightmare readers, whom would take the snaps out of context and interpreting it differently, as the snaps are available for all of our friends on the Snapchat media platform. Snapchat used to be a private platform where only the recipients of the snaps would be able to view the pictures. However if we save our snaps onto Stories, we would need to carefully craft our online presence on Snapchat because it would be available to everyone on our friend’s list, even to our nightmare readers.
Throughout the article, Wagner constantly addresses the benefits of this new Snapchat update. However, I would like to see his opinion on this new update and how Snapchat Stories does not coincide with the original founding idea of Snapchat. This new update allows us to have the opportunity to create disembodied identities, mentioned in Baym’s book, “Personal Connections in a Digital Age,” as we craft our identities and make sure that we are not presenting a profile of ourselves that we do not want others to see. It also makes us aware that we need to maintain our public online identity even on Snapchat, where it used to be a very private platform, as everyone can see what we put on Snapchat Stories. This might make some people feel that we are not authentic online as they can compare our previous snaps, where we might be more bold and obscure in our pictures, to our current snaps on Snapchat Stories, where we might filter out snaps that we do not want the public to see.
Does Snapchat value their founding principles, where “the photos self-destruct after sending makes Snapchat a more natural way to send pictures you don’t want others to see,” or want to progress into a new media sharing social media platform like Instagram and Vine? As of this point, no one knows what will happen in the future. All we can do is wait for the next update on the App Store and check out what they have changed.