Ephemerality is the big social media buzz-word at the moment. With Snapchat being valued at $ 10 billion, and Facebook and Instagram both launching their own versions of the self-destructing photo and text messaging app, it’s clear that as much as people love having something to say, they don’t want it hanging around forever.
Until now, you’ve had to rely on Snapchat (or Slingshot or Bolt, if you’ve got to be a special snowflake or work for Facebook) for all your disappearing messaging needs. Jesse Stauffer’s new app Xpire is looking to change that.
Rather than provide a new service for self-destructing messages, Xpire is designed to work on top of existing social media platforms. Users can select the length of time that a post will last – anywhere from a minute to a day – and then make the post to Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr via the Xpire app. Once the allotted time has expired, the post is automatically deleted.
The app isn’t so much billed as a security or privacy service, although that’s certainly an aspect of it. Rather it’s touted as a way to reduce the ever-increasing load of irrelevancies on social media, a solution to those of-the-moment posts which you want people to see but you don’t really need clogging up your post history forever. Reactions to sports events, for example, aren’t going to be of much interest to anyone more than a couple of hours after the happening. It could also be useful for those classic ‘where are you guys?’ statuses that people throw out at midnight when they get to the wrong bar.
Stauffer also said that the idea for the app came to him when he realised that his friends who were graduating had a social media history stretching back years, filled with often questionable and sometimes downright off-putting content – a history which was open for every potential employer to browse through at their leisure. People want to share, but there are some things which are better left off the slate of digital history.
Xpire isn’t the first app based around ephemeral social networking; Sobrr, for instance, has much the same idea – that the things you say on a night out aren’t the things that you want there in the morning. But while Sobr seems like something of a novelty, Xpire has the trappings of a serious effort to confront the twin spectres of security and information overload which loom over modern social media.
In addition to allowing you to control the life-span of posts, the app also provides a simple interface for going back and deleting up to 3,200 of your old tweets – useful if you’re applying for jobs and suddenly realise that you’ve live-tweeted a few too many episodes of Bridezillas than may be appropriate.
Stauffer has already secured funding from notorious investor Mark Cuban’s Radical Ventures, so the project has some capital to propel it forward. Building on top of other platforms rather than constructing your own app is always a little risky, so it will be interesting to see where Xpire goes from here.