Instagram was experimenting with a new privacy feature. Using a test pool of small number of users, whenever an Instagram Story was captured in a screenshot of sent on to someone else in a direct message, the original poster was notified. But the company has backed away from deploying this feature, which is part of Snapchat, saying the experiment is over and you can go back to screenshooting and forwarding things to your heart’s content.
While screen-shotting direct messages is well and truly on shaky ethical ground, Instagram was looking at notifying you if someone did the same with a story you posted on your public timeline. At one level that makes a lot of sense. But, then again, if you’re posting stuff on a social media feed that you don’t want shared far and wide, you need to rethink your posting decisions.
Instagram has been making a few changes to their platform of late. For example, if someone @mentions you in a story you can now share that in your timeline easily. And you can now mute noisy posters as well.
There was never an offical announcement made by Instagram about the screenshot notification feature although they did tell Buzzfeed about both the start of the experiment and the decision to spike it. Interestingly, if you were chosen to be one if the test users, you weren’t told. So there has been a time when if you screenshot a post you wouldn’t know whether the original poster would be notified of your action.
So, we’ve all been part of some massive social experiment.
With privacy such a big deal, I’m surprised they decided to ditch this new feature. Being told when your stuff was being shared would be a nice way to know whether you were being stalked by a lurker. Now, the lurkers can be confident in their activities and screenshot your feed with impunity.