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Instagram is letting some people know when you screenshot their stories

The days of IG stalking are numbered

Just when you thought your Instagram stalking ways were safe, the social media giant comes along and puts a peg in your sneaky Instastory screenshotting.

Some users have reported seeing pop ups in the app informing them that, from now on, Instagram will be flagging when you record or take a screenshot of other people’s IG stories – to them. Many have pointed out that they’ve received an in-app warning that the next time they screenshot, the other user will be notified.

According to a report by Tech Crunch, those who have been selected to participate in the IG trial can see exactly who has been creeping and snapping their stories via the ‘seen by’ list. Those who have screenshotted an image or recorded a video will have a little camera shutter logo next to their usernames, much like Snapchat. A lot of us probably migrated from Snapchat to IG because of the screenshot flagging-feature. 

There have been rumours and immense panic about a change that would bring about the end of IG creeping days cropping up for months, but Instagram has now confirmed to Tech Crunch that they were indeed trialing the new notifications, noting that they were “always testing ways to improve the experience on Instagram and make it easier to share any moment with the people who matter to you”.

Of course, users have already found a nifty runaround to avoid social media stalking exposure. So here’s the deal: turning your phone on airplane mode after you’ve loaded the story and then taking your screenshot means that users won’t be notified of any impropriety. You could also – if you’re super desperate to save pictures – download the stories from Instagram’s website or use an app like Story Reposter.

Still, it does illuminate some interesting questions about surveillance in the digital age, and like the tortuous message read receipts, it could play havoc with your mental health and wellbeing. Clearly, there’s concerns on Instagram’s part about users’ content being shared without their permission, but if your account is already public, how far can sneaky snaps go? Ultimately, this is the digital world – where plagiarism is layered on thick and the resharing of content is key.

Nevertheless, a warning about snakey screenshots could be super helpful for a lot of users who’ve had their personal images used nonconsensually. Having personal and intimate pictures sent via apps like Grindr or Tinder is illegal – not like that prevents people from doing it. You could also make an argument that a feature like this would work better on private message services on Twitter DMs or Whatsapp, to facilitate the level of privacy we expect there. But do we want those pass-agg Whatsapp screenshots unleashed in the group chat flagged? Definitely not.

Instagram’s inclusion of screenshot warnings feels like another way for it to level up over Snapchat. Tellingly, the small rollout of this feature also signals that Instagram could be concerned about app engagement, rather than personal qualms and issues.

Maybe, rather than focusing on who is or isn’t nabbing screenshots of people’s toast or soon-to-be-deleted video rants, Instagram could address their algorithmic problem that thrusts four-day-old content on the feed. If trials don’t go well and there’s enough of a backlash, IG may decide to scrap it – just let us Instastalk our exes in peace.  

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