Saturday, February 22, 2014

Online You that is Untraceable, Unsearchable - Snapchat anyone?

Would you be interested to become ephemeral in this digital age? To post photos and videos that self-destruct within seconds or minutes? Would you like to have a delete-all button that would erase everything that you have put online, maybe because you want to start fresh, move on, and have that right to be forgotten when you want to? Delete all photos of your ex? Would you be thrilled to share bits of yourself through photos and videos and not leave a trail that you have done so? Well, there's an app that's maybe right for you. 

Have you heard about Snapchat yet? I've only come across it through a recent Bloomberg magazine with a sexy, young lady popping out of its cover, that went with a catchy byline - Erasable You. My husband subscribes to Bloomberg so our house gets littered with lots of issues. I honestly rarely pick a copy to read. But that one with the catchy cover got me curious. And that's how Snapchat came to my knowledge. The article says it's been made available on iTunes and since has been competing with the popular social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram. Like Facebook, it was developed by geek students from a premier university, Stanford. Because of its playful, naughty feature of having photos that self destruct, it started gaining popularity in the U.S. with high school students as its early adopters. 

Students would exchange photos and videos of themselves acting crazy, and customize the time these would stay in the recipients' phones or gadgets. While Facebook's founder, Zuckerberg, believes that digital information is important and there's value in storing and archiving it, this does not sit well with those who are concerned about security, who want to limit their public identities, or maintain their anonymity. Security issues stem form that fact that all digital data are mined, stored and archived for possible scrutiny and use. Everything we put online could be made available for a price to marketers. In this digital age where everything imaginable seems possible, and when every minute product developers are at work to offer enhanced or new apps and gadgets, we are at risk of unwanted exposure.  In this context, there has been an apparent demand for what had started as a court case in Argentina where a certain woman demanded that digital information maligning her person be deleted by Google and Yahoo. The Right To Be Forgotten. Cool, eh? 

Reading all these stuff got me really curious, I downloaded Snapchat via Apple Store. It's free. I allowed it to access my contacts to see who among my friends are early adopters. And it turned out that only one is, a cousin who's a college student. I'm sure more will try it in no time, especially the sneaky ones or just the playful type, or maybe a small following from the not-so-young who have profound reasons for preferring to be ephemeral in this digital age. 

Love to have on an online presence but scared of permanent digital records? Try Snapchat, and add me up. Drop me an email and I'll share with you my user name. Let's play snap-show-and-erase! :-)

For my own use -- This post was started while waiting at a piano class and completed at a barber shop with my son. I am compelled to write when there's really none to do. Happy thoughts, happy vibes, happy days, my friends. :-)
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