Social Media: Your Permanent Record

Social media has thus far carried a general understanding of permanency in regards to the content distributed within.  In some respects, this is a great way of record keeping, storing media, and tracking personal developments. However, in this lies an inherent problem: recording, storing, and tracking don’t sound quite so great next to words like permanent, forever, and public.

Finding a happy medium between these polarities is a difficult task for any social network, but not entirely insurmountable. Two weeks from now, WNM Live will be introducing a new aspect to communication by automatically deleting posts that are over 1 week old. The new feature allows content to flow through the stream as the ephemeral glimpses into each other’s lives that they truly are. This attaches less responsibility to the user, allowing them to speak openly, express themselves freely, and post with confidence. WNM Live is about connecting people, and one of the ways we do this is through the freedom of expression. It is important for us to frame our avenues of communication as secure, reliable, and with a relative lack of permanence so we can provide the safety and lack of censorship that is desired for our community.  Adding a shelf life to posts is not a limitation, it’s a feature!

Keep in mind, the structure of WNM Live currently makes it quite difficult to access posts older than 24 hours already. On a mobile device you have to scroll through hundreds of messages, clicking through pages many times before you’d get to content that’s 3 days old or more. By throwing out expired content we allow users to maintain control of what Jeffrey Rosen (Professor of Law at George Washington University) refers to as “The Right to Be Forgotten”. This has become a major movement in privacy rights. Rosen aptly defines the problem in a recent article on StanfordLawReview.org:

“In theory, the right to be forgotten addresses an urgent problem in the digital age: it is very hard to escape your past on the Internet now that every photo, status update, and tweet lives forever in the cloud…[] the intellectual roots of the right to be forgotten can be found in French law, which recognizesle droit à l’oubli—or the “right of oblivion”—a right that allows a convicted criminal who has served his time and been rehabilitated to object to the publication of the facts of his conviction and incarceration. 

The real benefit here is the mindset it encourages users to adopt and the bonus of not worrying about that image you posted doing a keg-stand appearing in Google search results for eternity:

kegstand

This is a delicate balance indeed. But without a willingness from staff and community alike to give change a chance, WNM Live couldn’t be what it is today; a vibrant, growing community of innovators.

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