The most vibrant new medium invented in past five years isn’t Facebook’s Oculus Rift or Apple’s animoji. It’s the story: the chronological procession of photos, video, and text that erases itself after 24 hours.
Invented by Snapchat and borrowed, infamously, by Instagram and now Facebook, it’s the most novel form of social media in the smartphone age. As of last year, 250 million people used the feature on Instagram every day.
Now Instagram is borrowing another feature from Snapchat. In a test starting this week, the company will sometimes alert you when someone takes a screenshot of your Instagram story. The change, first reported by TechCrunch this weekend, has also been spotted by Twitter users:
Good bye freedom to screenshot IG stories. 💔 Thank you, Instagram for the warning. pic.twitter.com/y0pEaVR0Jq— mulan (@__cajb) February 8, 2018
It makes sense, in a way. Stories are confessional and disposable by design. Like podcasts, they benefit from being cordoned off from the rest of the web: On Instagram, you can’t link to a web page from your story (unless you’re a celebrity); you just have to sit there and watch it.
But there’s nothing to keep someone from taking a screenshot of this private form and sending it to their friends or posting it online. So without an easy way to block people from using the screenshot function—which is controlled by a phone’s operating system—Instagram is borrowing from Snapchat and doing the next best thing. It squeals. Instagram has become a narc.