Instagram now allows users to archive their posts, according to TechCrunch. In a change currently rolling out to users, opening the additional options menu (the three dots at the top right of any post) will allow users to make individual posts private. It’s a smart option for users — who are continually struggling to deal with all of the social-media cruft they’ve generated over the years — and for Instagram, which needs to retain data in order to sell ads more effectively.
Every social network should have one of these functions, something that allows you to hide old, potentially embarrassing posts from other users, while not wiping them out entirely. Have you ever gone deep into your Facebook archives to look at old posts from high school and college? It’s terrifying.
Certain users on Twitter have taken to setting their tweets to automatically delete after a short period of time, so as to avoid leaving a years-long digital paper trail. The company has a manual archive function, but that’s not quite the same. As John Herrman observed at the Awl, “Time is a privacy setting.”
The benefits of a system that automatically marks posts of a certain age as private are obvious. Social networks get ad-targeting data, and users get peace of mind knowing that the person they were six months or three years ago isn’t just floating out there in digital space waiting to be discovered.
Ephemeral, 24-hour stories are meant to encourage users to share more and more often, knowing that there is an expiration date. Facebook might further solve the continued decrease in original content on its platform by ensuring users that their posts will, after a time, be for their eyes only. The concept of an archive should be applied to every social network — media gets put into a private vault after a certain period of time.