Feature Friday: Privacy

The Gotham Gal and I went out with friends last night. As can happen, we got talking shop towards the end of the night. And specifically we were debating the significance of Snapchat. The debate was about whether the feature that makes Snapchat special (you know your photos won't end up on Facebook) is the basis for a standalone app and business. My view, having lived through this debate with Twitter and Foursquare, is that mobile apps are features in the mobile OS and that Snapchat can and likely will own this feature in the leading mobile operating systems even though institutionalized copycats (ie Facebook who copies everything) can and will copy it. The irony that Facebook has copied a feature that is specifically designed to avoid Facebook is precious in and of itself.

But I digress. The thing I want to talk about here is the emergence of privacy as the defining feature of the next breakaway app on the social internet. What does this mean for where we are and where we are going? Is open social out and closed private in?

At times like this, I like to talk to my kids and their friends. Here is a typical college aged woman I know. She uses Twitter, Instagram, Cinemagram, Foursquare, iMessage, and Snapchat. And Facebook too. She uses each of them for what they are good for. Each of them is on her home screen – one click and she is sharing something with someone. Each app offers a different graph – that she has curated specifically for that app – and each app offers a different type of engagement. If it is something silly that she wants to share with a friend but would be mortified if it ended up on Facebook, its Snapchat. If it is something she wants out there broadly, it is Twitter. If it is something she wants to share with a wide group of curated friends, it's Instagram. She has a private Instagram account so she controls who follows her there. She is a sophisticated user of social media. She was on Facebook in middle school and has grown up with this stuff. She knows how to use social media and she adopts whatever is useful to her. Snapchat is useful to her. Privacy is an important feature at times and she is happy to have an app with that as the central value proposition.

So that is my way of saying that I think privacy is an important feature and kudos to Snapchat for figuring that out. Further they invented a mode of engagement (the photos self destruct) that is new and novel. And the result is they are on the home screeen of millions of mobile phones and that number is growing by the day.

I expect we'll see a rash of copycats and other approaches to leveraging privacy as the central value proposition in the coming months. I am not sure that is the right thing to learn from this though. I think the right thing is to think about what other features are missing in the mobile OS and figure out the right mode of engagement to implement that feature. That is what Twitter did with status, Foursquare did with location, Instagram did with photo sharing, and Snapchat did with privacy. That got each of them on the home screen. Figure out what the next thing is.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Typo spotter

    Foursquare did with location. Not Facebook

    1. fredwilson

      yup. i fixed that typo. thanks.

  2. awaldstein

    What I want is a wallet that let’s me simply transact where and what I want securely with a click. My account for everywhere.Let me go through you for everything that I buy on the web and you get a permanent place on my desktop just like you have in my back pocket.

    1. fredwilson


    2. Aaron Klein

      This is why I’m unclear why square stubbornly refuses to bring the online and offline worlds together.There is one sandwich shop near my office where I can pay with square. It’s truly magical but I don’t get to do it often.

      1. awaldstein

        This is the holy grail…but it’s a challenge.Once you do this you need to deal with POS systems, ties back into inventory, reporting blah blah blah. A lot more than just letting me buy avocado’s with a cc at the green market.But…do this and they disrupt the world big time.

      2. ShanaC

        holy grails are not easy to actually find. They are more likely to kill you than not

    3. RichardF

      I think Amazon can do this and are gradually on their way to doing it

      1. awaldstein

        Can and will are really far apart for Amazon.They replace retail in most cases. Why would they empower it and will vendors pay them (their piece of the transaction) to do this?I think not.

        1. RichardF

          they already are amazon payments is a reality.I think so…

          1. awaldstein

            True…but they don’t touch retail POS.

          2. kidmercury

            siding with richard in this beef. retail POS is only a matter of time. wait till the kindle phone comes out.

  3. Pravin J

    Interesting how Snapchat as product looked at privacy differently than others.I guess it is similar for WhatsApp.. they believed every contact on your phone is the person you know. Amazing how quickly that made it scale up its user base and a deep phone book integration provided users option to WhatsApp a message and not Text it.If WhatsApp were to provide options to invite users and later wait for that invitation to get accepted, it might have been still struggling for user base.

    1. fredwilson

      but whatsapp is not anonymous because of thatwhich provided a market for kik to emerge

  4. Chris O'Donnell

    Somebody, somewhere is currently working on an app that automatically makes a permanent copy of every incoming Snapchat photo. It’s inevitable.

    1. ShanaC

      i’m wondering how wall st’ers are using it

    2. PhilipSugar

      I was wondering what prevents you from simply taking a screen shot?Home and sleep buttons at the same time….

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        They actually notify you if someone takes a screenshot!

      2. Dorian Dargan

        It’s actually hard to do, because you need to keep your finger on the entry in order for the image to be seen. So touch + home + sleep, on top of a 3-10 second viewing window, isn’t a walk in the park.

        1. PhilipSugar

          I see that Snapchat also tells you but there is a hack: http://www.thelacunablog.co…I’m not saying I don’t see the utility. There is stuff you just don’t want out there forever, and you should be able to trust your friends.What’s interesting to me as how things have moved from heavyweight: post a picture and a caption on facebook, to lighter weight tweet, to super lightweight; take a picture.

      3. LE

        Nothing prevents you from doing that. But it’s friction none the less and gives someone plausible deniability in their mind (falsely) for what they have done. Think of it as a lock on the door that keeps out the honest people not the determined thief.This deals with that issue:http://abcnews.go.com/Techn

    3. fredwilson

      my son can screenshot a snapchat. but even so …….

  5. takingpitches

    I liked this quote from the Snapchat founders:“It’s not all about fancy vacations, sushi dinners, or beautiful sunsets. Sometimes it’s an inside joke, a silly face, or greetings from a pet fish. Great conversations are magical. That’s because they are shared, enjoyed but not saved.”Of course, it’s being used for things others than silly faces or greetings from a pet fish 🙂

    1. Aaron Klein

      I have got to get my wife to install this app. 😉

      1. takingpitches

        Haha. Expect a coming wave of leaked Snapchat tapes from the reality celebrity contingent perhaps 😉

        1. Aaron Klein

          Racing to go register SnapTMZ.com… 😉

    2. muratcannoyan

      That is a great quote. Ephemeral combined with “not saved” makes for an interesting emotional response.

  6. Obi Offorjindu

    There’s another great blog post in how a young startup can survive despite a big player copying their concept. That also happened with Foursquare. Do investors still ask startups “What happens if X copies you?”

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      That is on their minds.

      1. Obi Offorjindu

        I’m interested in how founders respond in that situation. Do you do anything differently? Does your strategy change?

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          I may be the wrong one to ask since I’m very above board and mention concerns like that before the question is asked. Therefore, I tend to spook people a little. 😉

          1. LE

            “mention concerns like”I call that inoculation. Lawyers practice that as wel when they are representing someone who has a bad past and is on trial for a different crime. Off the top I can’t remember what they call it though.In the end it is just another sales job. You have to find enough rationalization to convince the skeptical party of why it’s not a problem. Much easier to do if you raise (in general) as opposed to having them ask.

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            I think you’re right and that’s why I bring it up.

    2. fredwilson

      to me its a sign that you have arrived and you are going to win

      1. Obi Offorjindu

        Glad when innovation is rewarded by users. Have you advised any startups to adjust their strategy when this happens?

        1. fredwilson


  7. takingpitches

    It’s probably a false sense of privacy that Snapchat is providing.We live in a world where there fundamentally is no longer any forgetting and consequently there is no privacy because things will ultimately get out.Society has until the digital age been premised on a certain degree of anonymity to live your life, the ability to ultimately keep certain things private, or have them fade from memory where that has failed. This is no longer possible and we need to adjust.But it will have profound effects.Nietzche said “Without forgetting it is quite impossible to live at all.”

    1. fredwilson

      it works pretty well. my son showed me that he can screenshot snapchat, but you have to be fast on the trigger to do it.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Or have another device ready to take a photo or be recording video so you won’t miss it ..

      2. gbattle

        There are a few ways to further hinder screenshots that people will discover. Namely, the more fingers that are needed to be active to render the photo, the fewer you have for screenshoting (unless you have another person help you, which defeats the “private” 1-on-1 sharing purpose – there is a modified Monte Hall issue here).

    2. Vinay Pai

      All forms of security can be defeated with enough effort, it’s just a matter of recognizing the adversary you’re trying to protect yourself from, and the risk/cost tradeoff. Snapchat will protect you from carelessness, it won’t protect you from maliciousness or deliberate targeting. If the CIA wants to get your pictures they probably can. If you send a photo to someone you don’t trust there’s nothing stopping them from saving a copy, taking a screenshot etc. and forwarding it to your boss.However it will avoid situations where you emailed something to a friend who accidentally forward it to someone, or whose email gets hacked at some point and embarassing things get out.

    3. raycote

      Isn’t “anonymity to live your life, the ability to ultimately keep certain things private”just an analogue to systemic-containment or cellularization.I thing of systemic-cellularization/containment as the flip side of the network-synchronization-effect(dynamic-glue).All nested platform-components that participate within any given complex-adaptive-system-layer of the reality stack seem to develop around an emergent homeostatic tipping-point that optimizes their network-effect boundary-conditions to mediate between their internal network-synchronization-effects(dynamic-glue) and their systemic-cellularization/containment of that network-effects from the larger world.Like a fractal set of nested Russian dolls, all the way up the reality stack we see repeated systemic-cellularization/containment or boundary conditions that act to limit the internal network-synchronization-effect(dynamic-glue) from that outside world.atomsmoleculescellsorgansorganismsfamiliesgroupsorganizationsnationsThese rarified network-synchronization-effect boundary-conditions ostensibly define the very components that become available to participate as platform-components in the next higher complex-adaptive-system-layer of the reality stack.It is these rarified-network-effect boundary-conditions, these emergent low-flux tipping-point network-effect boundary-conditions that embody the next-level-up platform-components with both optimized internal network-effect-stability(dynamic-glue) yet maintain enough externally degrees of freedom to participate as optimally recombinant platform-components in the reality stack as it keeps levelling-up on its teleologic journey into complexity/consciousness.ALL THIS ABSTRACT WIND IS JUST TO PUT AN EXCLAMATION POINT ON:1)The pivotal importance to human-community of identifying and implementing effective systemic-cellularization/containment/privacy via optimally rarified-network-effect-boundary-conditions between the different people and organizations that constitute the recombinant platform-components that are now defining a new stage in the evolution of the universal reality stack. A new stage defined by layers of abstracted network entities and agents.(stollen from Miller/Hofstadter)2)The importance of rummaging through our historical trunk full of concrete-reality-stack ideas, narratives and metaphoric in order to retrieve and extend them into their new network-abstracted analogues.(stollen from McLuhan)

    4. André DeMarre

      Agreed. The level of privacy is probably sufficient to prevent your trusted friends from holding on to photos you don’t want them to keep, either accidentally or intentionally. But it can’t prevent a determined agent of malice from keeping a sensitive photo once he’s got his hands on it. He could take a picture of the screen with another device, and probably hack his own device somehow to save the original digital file.

    5. André DeMarre

      Ephemeral communication is gone:http://www.schneier.com/blo…But there are ways we can emulate ephemeral communication, with varying degrees of strength, and Snapchat is an example here.

  8. andyswan

    Is there anything that hasn’t already been solved by Seinfeld? Gonna have to agree with Kramer on this one…”Our policy is, we’re comfortable with our bodies. You know, if someone wants to help themselves to an eyefull – we say, Enjoy the show.”(“Reverse Peephole” episode)

    1. fredwilson

      seinfeld as a way to think up startup ideas. i think you could do a tumblog on that idea

      1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        somewhat relevant note: the @SeinfeldToday twitter account which I only discovered over the holidays is a gem!

        1. Anne Libby

          Hilarious. And I love that they retweet the “Seinfeld tweets” that others people send out — some are even funnier than theirs are.

      2. ShanaC


        1. David Roman

          hey shana– I HATE to be annoying, but I received a notification so I clicked back to this post and my response comment to LE is missing again. This time it isn’t listed on the post nor in my profile. I checked on an alternative browser as well and still no luck.Part of the reason why I love Disqus is because all comments are archived and that’s important to me. It’s like a secondary blog that I like to occasionally go back and refer to. Most the time when I comment, I just allow my wind to wander and think about the relevant topic and try and reach the greatest depth that my mind is capable of– it’s like on the fly learning for me as I piece things together and try to make sense of them. So I like to refer back to comments occasionally and now that this is the second time a separate comment has gone missing in such a short period of time i’m curious if this happens often with other users? Or someone on here has it out for me and is censoring my comments? I dont know 🙁

      3. Charlie Crystle

        top traffic last year was a few weeks ago: Startups & Seinfeld (but not about ideas)http://diggingintwo.blogspo…

        1. fredwilson


    2. Luke Chamberlin

      I use the “waiting in a Chinese restaurant app” all the time.

    3. Richard

      Avc’s take on these type of  Seinfeldvc innovations is spot on. 

  9. falicon

    How much is this privacy vs just capitializing on weak ties? These are the moments you share with a casual friend and then mostly forget about…that is different than privacy, it’s throw away friendships…

    1. Luke Chamberlin

      I disagree. An inside joke that is only funny to one person but not worth posting to a larger network is a deep friendship, not a throw away friendship.

      1. falicon

        Sometimes…then I would call it a throw away moment at the least…but still different than privacy I think…

        1. Luke Chamberlin

          I don’t want to believe in throw away moments.

      2. LE

        “inside joke that is only funny”I agree.Probably an idea for a product here. How can you share inside jokes with people that would find them funny that aren’t in your circle of friends?Let’s say my new father in law looks like the Hyman Roth character in the godfather and I attempt to “murder” him at Passover and make a video of it. I know Andy Swan might want to see that but to others it would fall flat and they wouldn’t get it. How can I share it with people that would appreciate something like that? (No need to focus on this example – I’m just trying to make a point..)

      3. fredwilson

        exactly. strong ties for sure.

    2. willcole

      The stronger the tie to a person, the more important privacy is…at least in my life. I want my photos, IM’s, email, phone calls to be more private the closer I am to that person.For the most part.

      1. Drew Meyers

        Yup…i just spent NYE in Tahoe with 10 good friends. How were we reminiscing about the trip yesterday (2 days after we got back)? By sharing photos and videos in a group text message.

  10. William Mougayar

    There is a certain brilliance in the simplicity of Snapchat. I used it over the holidays with my brothers & cousins and it was a good experience. Totally reminded me of Instagram’s initially market entry. It’s the thin edge of wedge totally. So thin, it could be mistaken for a razor edge. 

  11. ShanaC

    Privacy isn’t a bug. it is a place which allows us to be more honest. Big public data induces us to lie a little – that the world is much better than it is. And while there are benefits to that (“fake it until you make it”), there needs to be places and things that allow for processing

  12. Dave W Baldwin

    Glad you’re back on this Fred. This would be a good year to define privacy in the public arena.Achieving true privacy is an important task and will require doing so without becoming hostage with a big company that will turn your product into something that is nothing more than a collector of data. Those who want to make it happen need to think outside the box being ready for what is going to happen moving against you down the road.

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        Hmm… an offshore cloud! Would love to help market Silent Circle gaining enough rev to bring the price point down to $9.99.Had to respond to Albert.Thanks!

  13. jason wright


  14. Dorian Dargan

    It’s not just privacy, it’s the intimate ephemerality of fleeting moments that they are harnessing, which in turn helps makes it addictive.

    1. fredwilson


  15. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    The Facebook-snap chat story was an interesting one to watch it get covered by media. The first storyline was that Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg can still innovate and let this be a warning to startups who don’t want to play along with Facebook. Within a week of this storyline, a new one emerged with general headline that Facebook has failed to innovate and how small startups such as Snapchat can compete and even beat Facebook in some features. The big lesson for me was how quickly some reporters rush to write a story and make predictions based on extremely poor quality and extremely volatile data!

    1. fredwilson

      has facebook done anything innovative since the newsfeed and tagging people in photos? and when did they do that? i think they have used copying as their product strategy since then

      1. Aaron Klein

        Messaging is another place they’ve copied. They’ve basically shipped voxer and kik in one product now.I have zero emotional connection to FB. It doesn’t delight me and it feels fairly soulless. I keep it because it drives a lot of traffic to my blog and all of my friends are on it and I like connecting with them.

      2. takingpitches

        So true, and plus they don’t even do copy very well.There was this line of thinking that Facebook’s control of the social graph would take the life out of other social applications by moving them onto Facebook. In my estimation, the evidence over the last couple of years has proven this to be completely wrong. Let’s count the ways. Twitter is a better content sharing platform, Instagram was better for photosharing, Foursquare held off Facebook check-ins, Facebook Deals (its Groupon competitor) died off even more quickly than Groupon is, social shopping has not taken off, and we have heard little since the massive media kickoff about Facebook Messaging which was supposed to kill off everyone else’s emails. In sum, Facebook has had no success extending its control of the social graph into applications.

      3. kidmercury

        so? what’s wrong with copying?

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I think the basis of it is that if you need to copy you don’t really know what you’re doing. They don’t understand why what is working is working, etc.. What they’ve been trying to do is monetize their existing traffic base with existing business models they see around the web. Heard of Facebook Moments yet? I just read a brief the other day about it. It’s basically a variation of Reddit, where they will try to incentivize (poorly) people to make their popular content public. All parts of the structure of it I read, and how it will end up being done, is contrary to what people actually like or want. It seems they’re using very immature or perhaps general leading metrics to guide them, and not metrics that come from nuanced understanding.

          1. kidmercury

            i don’t buy that. i didn’t invent the smartphone and wasn’t the first to get one, yet i saw what others were doing, copied them, and tweaked what i saw others doing so it could fit into my life. i don’t see how a company copying someone else is any different. i think the facebook check-in experience is preferable for many users to foursquare’s, facebook’s status update is preferable to twitter for many, paypal’s square thing is preferable for many to square, and match.com’s innovations copied from other dating startups is preferable as well. in all those instances, the incumbent had the upper hand in terms of userbase and balance sheet. if the attacking startup isn’t sufficiently disruptive — meaning if they haven’t carved out a specific paying customer group the incumbent cannot reach — i think the incumbent is smart to copy.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            “Works well enough for now” isn’t the same as best option, and they’ll appear on the surface to be successful heavily because of that initial userbase they can market to.

          3. thinkdisruptive

            Can you name anything that wasn’t copied (and then adapted)? Context (the application) is what defines innovation, not whether features were copied or not. You implicitly acknowledge this when you say that “they don’t understand why what is working is working”. There is intelligent copying, and dumb copying, and a world of difference between the two.

          4. Matt A. Myers

            Taking F and plugging it into A doesn’t inherently make A better than option B. It’s very true everything new is a combination of old. “All answers already exist, it’s asking the right questions that matters” … and with that, it means knowing or figuring out the best way to put old knowledge together to have something functioning better, being more useful.

          5. thinkdisruptive

            Yes, I think we’re agreeing. Everything is copy and adapt. We grossly exaggerate how much “innovation” (generally translated as new and novel) is in anything. Very small changes can make very big differences in usefulness and making customers happier.The point is, we’ve conceptually constructed a world where copying is perceived as bad (e.g. plagiarism, copyright, condescension towards anyone who admits copying), when the fact is, we can’t build anything that performs better than the status quo without copying. What we should really do is celebrate smart copying that improves the status quo. Copying with credit.Or, to reiterate @kidmercury:disqus’s comment, what’s wrong with copying?

          6. Matt A. Myers

            Indeed. Acknowledging inspiration / giving credit is important. People are afraid to give credit though, which I think stems from a) insecurity / bad self-esteem and they want to receive an exaggerated sense of praise, or b) worried about consequences of copying. I think many people don’t like being copied either, perhaps the wrong attitude but understandable with how most societies are structured currently. A lot of it could be brought back to that a lot of people are creative as part of how they survive, pay for bills, etc.. so someone copying actually hurts them, makes it harder for them to live, to survive. If people felt safe and taken care of, there would be more sharing, more creativity, more socializing, etc..

          7. thinkdisruptive

            All creative people borrow from those who came before, and the most distinguished acknowledge it. See: http://www.anti-marketer.co… If we simply came to terms with the idea that copying is a good thing, we’d realize that it’s harder to survive (for all of us) without copying.

          8. Matt A. Myers

            Yup, so finding way to let people feel comfortable sharing and copying as a tool and method for learning is important.

        2. fredwilson

          Its lame

          1. thinkdisruptive

            A shortsighted view.

      4. Matt A. Myers

        I agree with you that they haven’t – and I’d even take it a step farther and state that they are no longer the business model they started out with that made them popular. Their attempts to copy / mimic other popular systems ignores the underlying value that those systems provide, ignores the gaps that they’ve filled in the market. Facebook filled a specific need, and now they’ve diluted that, and done so much damage to their brand that there’s a huge exodus of people waiting to find the next better thing, or things. I never thought about Snapchat as providing something separate and private, a need that clearly is desired – similarly to Pair (and maybe Path, not so familiar with it) where everything you share is just with one or a few select people.I mention in an example below in reply to kidmercury of something that Facebook’s planning called Moments. They seem to be good with the marketing hype machine, similar Timeline could have been awesome if they hadn’t changed the initial value it brought to people. Facebook can and will be disrupted.Facebook doesn’t know what to be, mainly because they want to be it all, though that’s just impossible; Nature doesn’t allow monopolies — not at least when there is control going on.

      5. LE

        “has facebook done anything innovative”Facebook suffers from the same disease that Google and many companies have.They tend to hire the same people cut from the same bolt of cloth.So they are not going to have the best selection of innovative offbeat ideas because all people think the same way and most have high faluten achievements, accomplishments and education. But users, the real world, the people who use things don’t. They are just normals. [1] Those companies hire what they think is the best and the brightest (everybody wants to be the Kennedy administration) and they most definitely talk a good game and have stunning credentials but I think the bar of entry into those organization is set in a way that limits innovation because of that structure. Everyone has heard about those google tests. They have a place for some hiring but not all hiring. They have to mix in less obvious people. And when you have thousands of people working in your organization (as opposed to a 20 person company) why not?Ask yourself this. What’s the chance of someone like Kid Mercury getting a job at Facebook or Google? What’s the chance of Fake Grimlock getting a job working there? I’m sure whatever is their testing and vetting methods would totally miss those opportunities.That doesn’t mean that whatever idea any particular person has is always a good idea. And that’s the point. You need to get people from many different backgrounds and capabilities in order to figure things out (you found that with the airbnb non-investment). That’s one of the things I like about reading AVC.com I get to hear from people and what they say that is way different from the way I think and learn from it.Of course there is one other important reason why those companies are not able to innovate. If you take a bunch of people with a bunch of ideas some will hit the fan and will work. (My idea of business being just riding the low hanging fruit of opportunity when it knocks.) Zuckerberg is a smart guy but he’s not 100 times smarter then any other person at Harvard and not 150 times smarter then someone at Vanderbilt etc. These are not athletes. The people who started those companies are not vastly superior to the other people out there that are their peers. They just were the ones that had an idea that worked and they executed. (A hundred other people of equal qualifications are working for the man and nobody cares about them.) That doesn’t make them any more special in coming up with a completely new idea and certainly not a completely new big idea. Andressen wasn’t dead on with Loudcloud it had to morp into something else to make money for him. It didn’t just “turn to gold”.[1] Supersmart people have a hard time understanding how normal people think and how their brain works or I should say doesn’t work. They have no idea of what it’s like to be stupid. That’s why you have to have conversations with stupid and low motivation people in order to understand what makes them tick.

        1. fredwilson

          i take your point and agree with itbut google impresses me in this areaself driving cars, fiber in kansas city, google glasses, etc, etcthey are trying new stuff not just copyingthey do copy as well

    2. Drew Meyers

      “The big lesson for me was how quickly some reporters rush to write a story and make predictions based on extremely poor quality and extremely volatile data!”Unfortunately, the competition to see who can waste people’s valuable time to consume ANYTHING is really competitive. Many (not all) reporters will do whatever it takes to get a quick hit of adrenaline by writing a catchy & misleading title based on virtually zero facts.

    3. William Mougayar

      Being quick to copy is not the same as innovation 🙂

      1. thinkdisruptive

        All innovation involves copying.

        1. William Mougayar

          “All” might be a strong word. True that most innovations build upon existing ones, but calling that copying takes away might be a stretch.

          1. thinkdisruptive

            I’m willing to be shown wrong. Can you offer a counter-example of innovation that didn’t involve copying and adaptation? Even something as simple as putting a big red button on machinery to indicate the “STOP” function more effectively is a useful innovation, and not one that I’d want to sneer at because everything else was copied.

        2. Dave W Baldwin

          How about this @wmoug:disqus? I like to ask for definition of Reverse Engineering. So many will say it is take product, take it apart and figure out how to build it (leads to add just one thing and call it new). I respond, “Hmm, fascinating. How about Reverse Engineering is taking something that is 5-10 yrs. out, and reverse work the steps required to make it happen faster?”

  16. Barry Nolan

    It’s part privacy.It’s part the security of perishable moments versus the fear of lost control of immortalized indiscretions.It’s part a reaction to Facebook’s damaged brand. They are to privacy as Marlboro is to longevity.It’s part a mobile expression of desktop apps such as 4chan – in a fantastically quick, whimsical and personal experience.It’s part a finger to the faux gravitas of other moment sharing networks – Path et al. AKA it’s fun and young.It’s part the old adage – sex sells. Where there is sex, there is traffic – a place corporates fear to tread.

    1. fredwilson

      “They are to privacy as Marlboro is to longevity”damn that is good

      1. Barry Nolan

        Ha! Initially scribbled to my horror ‘as Guinness is to sobriety’. J’adore Guinness and complete sobriety is akin an early purgatory. Blasphemy.

    2. Schuyler Deerman

      Love the Marlboro quote

    3. ShanaC

      sex doesn’t sell ads though

      1. Barry Nolan

        Hmmm. A few million eyeballs, a few billion impressions, and worst case, lots of 50 Shades of Grey accessories to shift.

        1. ShanaC

          meh. it is hard to sell high quality ad on a site with a lot of porn.

    4. RichardF

      Great quote

  17. LE

    “that Snapchat can and likely will own this feature”It’s important to realize why snapchat will own this and a lesson to any established company.A new feature will spread much quicker if it is a completely new brand as opposed to something you simply tack onto or expansion of your existing product line.I remember the glee my daughters had when showing me snapchat for the first time. Something like “it’s this app and you take a picture and it disappears!!!”. No way it would have had the same effect if what they said was “well, on facebook you can now take a picture and it will disappear…)”.Specialized things work because they allow people to immediately isolate what the feature and benefits are that they are trying to push on a friend. And if the name is memorable it creates a marker in the brain that is much easier to be viral.Press, blogging, nightly news, Oprah (back in the recent day) also work better when there is a single company with a clearly defined mission to focus a story line on. It’s more exciting and also seems to be more of a “discovery” then when an established company adds a feature. Has more panache and all that intangible stuff.

    1. fredwilson


    2. Matt A. Myers

      Branding and brand messaging. Maybe most important thing. Why it’s not good to rush it, and why it’s good to be prepared before you go viral.

    3. William Mougayar

      yup, it’s the thin edge of the wedge. the thinner the edge, the easier it will cut, i.e. stick with users.

    4. RichardF

      Upvoted 2

    5. Donna Brewington White

      Hmmm… so if you are a company and want to introduce a new feature, you launch another company that houses the feature, let it go viral, and then acquire it?

      1. LE

        “and then acquire it”(Maybe just keep quiet about it actually. See AB below..)What is the age group of who are you selling to? A company or an individual? Large or small? Etc.From the “Journal of Strategio Dependo” Strategy depends on specifics.Let’s say you are an established cruise line and decide to compete with Disney in the child cruise market (Disney has cruise ships packed with families and kids as opposed to RCL, NCL etc. which have a small presence in that market). Well if I am taking my kids on a cruise I would rather know that the line, even a new brand, is operated by a reliable established company not a newcomer. But if I’m a hipster in Brooklyn I want something new that I have just discovered, something that hasn’t jumped the shark that I can call my own and say I just found it and impress my friends with.If I want to start a classy or even middle of the road restaurant I probably do not want to be affiliated with McDonalds.If I am starting a classy car company I probably will do better though if it’s known that I am backed by Toyota rather than John Delorean.Except if I’m Hyundai. Then I’d keep that quiet for a luxury brand.Beers do this with Anheuser Busch having all these little craft brews that you think come from some place with a wood burning fireplace and a brewman. They get the shelf space because they have distribution but they don’t plaster AB all over the label or call it AB craft beer for best results.Ask Arnold if he has ever or would ever buy a wine by Gallo? The only way that would work is if the wine was so good it would be able to wipe away the negative brand association that Gallo has.

    6. Elie Seidman

      In the physical world this has been cosmetics (Sephora), Jeans boutiques (many brands) and Sunglasses (Sunglass Hut) among others being pulled out of the general purpose department store.

  18. John Revay

    Side note: I saw a tweet last night the Dennis Crowley got engaged while they were away for the holidays

    1. fredwilson

      yup. a social media engagement.

  19. LE

    “She uses each of them for what they are good for. Each of them is on her home screen”Existing services of course could more easily clutter the home screen as well if they created apps that went directly to a discrete product or service offering (complete with a brand name that defines it) in a similar way. Same way NPR has a music app as well as an app to listen to their radio programming. One button access is good and someone will fix the clutter problem.

  20. Tom Labus

    Privacy is best maintained by monitoring what you say and post online. Like at home, you need to close the blinds and shades.

  21. Dave Pinsen

    The next thing? OK, here’s my idea: Let’s call it FutureYou. FutureYou takes your social media stream — Twitter, SnapChat, Facebook, etc. — and then removes your name and other identifying data. Blurs your face a little in photos too, for good measure. Then it sends it to someone with the same demographic profile as you, but who is 20 years older. And that person (anonymized as well), texts you back periodically, highlighting the stuff you’ll be embarrassed about in 20 years.

    1. fredwilson

      nice. build it.

    2. LE

      “texts you back periodically, highlighting the stuff you’ll be embarrassed about in 20 years.”But the entire experience in being young is that you don’t care or that the endorphins are going to the point where any negative consequences get dulled in the process.After all there couldn’t possibly be any young person who doesn’t know that smoking is bad or doing stunts is dangerous. But yet they do it anyway. This has to do with how the potential rush from the enjoyment overcomes the voice that tells you there could be a potential problem. (Same reason people cheat by the way. The good feeling in your brain overcomes all the things that are telling you it is the wrong thing to do. I’ve never cheated but I’ve never been tempted either. Who knows what I would do? )Additionally people also act on impulse and on an emotional level. As a result they don’t contemplate they just react. Even if they took the time to contemplate along the lines of what I said above they might still decide to post the info because they simply don’t care and want an immediate fix.

      1. Richard

        Most people know their future, they choose to exist not to excel.

  22. kidmercury

    i don’t think you can build graphs around features. i think graphs are ultimately built around interests, intent, and media.i’m looking at the home screen of my smartphone. top billing goes to utility apps: kindle, rhapsody, forex trading, camera. google suite: gmail, reader, local, maps, drive, chrome.facebook is there, although i’m looking forward to the day i can replace it with graphs that are build around interest/intent/media — i.e. fredland — rather than features. the rise of feature-centric applications is a distortion of bubble 2.0, in my opinion, and i think the best case scenario for most of these is to get acquired.a relevant thought: i would love to see check-in data on foursquare vs facebook, especially outside of early adopters. there is no doubt in mind that foursquare offers the better experience. but the casual internet users i know check-in on facebook when they want to broadcast their check-in — because that’s where their graph is. my hunch is that those who check-in on foursquare are more explorer-oriented, and that foursquare is really a network for those with an interest in urban exploration. whether this is a position that is both defensible and sufficiently profitable is another story.which leads to the issue of business model. what is the business model of snapchat and all these other feature networks? even those that have revenue, have they paid back the capital put in an amount of time that makes IRR respectable?also, i don’t think snapchat’s value proposition is clearly understood yet. sexting app? casual joking/conversing like you do in the real world app? privacy app? perhaps it is all of those, and it depends on the interest/intent of the graph in which it is embedded.

    1. fredwilson

      this post is not about business model. though that issue does loom large in my mind these days.

      1. LE

        Gore sold Current TV to Al Jizzera for $500 million and apparently it was a sucky loosing network. The difference is that going in the investors probably new that if he got shelf space, even if the network didn’t win big there was an exit strategy and value to that shelf space. Of course the deal isn’t closed so with the TWC decision to pull it (and possibly others) this transaction could easily die. (Not sure of the timeline though to be clear..) The thing that I seem to see out there is that there is not as much of that thinking in internet investing. There doesn’t seem to be (once again from what I read) any focus on the baseline value if the idea doesn’t hit big. It’s all just “they will figure it out hopefully”.

      2. kidmercury

        business model will ultimately affect what gets on the home screen. if the financing to get it on the home screen isn’t right, it won’t get there and stay there. for instance, if snapchat goes the API route maybe they will be on the home screen but embedded in other apps. likewise, if snapchat gets acquired maybe they will be also be on the homescreen but in another way.

    2. LE

      “snapchat’s value proposition”VP: It’s entertainment.How it’s going to make money is another thing and has nothing to do with value proposition. That’s simply “how to monetize”. To me I would simply unload an ephemeral idea like this to the highest bidder while the iron is hot. Or you can do door number two and take your chances. I say sell. Most young people would probably go for number two.

    3. BillSeitz

      I think you build a graph around a behavior/culture. A feature may be the key/distinctive driver of that behavior/culture.I’ve heard a lot of people complaining recently about the humble-bragging norm in Facebook, so there’s no authenticity. So, for someone wanting to have an authentic conversation, they want to be someplace other than Facebook – having new Groups and Lists etc inside Facebook is not enough…

      1. kidmercury

        i agree you can build a graph around a behavior/culture (as those words, particularly culture, i think have large overlap with the words i suggested — interest and intent) and i can see how a feature may be a driver of a behavior/culture. but i don’t believe in the idea that the feature can be the center of how the graph is branded, which is the case with snapchat and many other feature apps.

  23. Travis Bochenek

    There are so many great technologies which allow us to connect more and more everyday, but are we really more connected? Or do we just feel like we are? I believe that the future lies within mobilizing discussion forums. Forums are one of the very best ways of finding people with the same interests, getting real feedback on products, news stories and much more. One of your past posts discussed trusting online information, forums are one of the very few sources I personally believe in. By their very nature, they drive community with natural checks and balances, allowing for as much privacy or publicity as their members like. So many of the mobile apps I’ve seen and companies I’ve talked to try addressing these traits piece mail, but fall short of developing the deep ties which forums often do. Right now, these forums live on the web, with some companies like Tapatalk mobilizing them. If someone can bring the web forum experience to the mobile world, while taking advantage of all of the unique assets mobility brings, the game will be changed for good.

    1. fredwilson

      you and the Kid are on the same page. see his comment above

      1. Travis Bochenek

        Hah, I had to read his post a few times to get to the core of it but I do agree with you, very similar indeed. We’re more often connected with people we know but don’t share interests with, while the most rewarding relationships are often born out of shared interests or experiences. I’ve personally met some of my best friends on forums, some as simple as focusing on cars or skiing. This is where technology has fallen abysmally short and where the biggest opportunities lay. If you can help facilitate that type of connection, be it for personal or business use, you will have a dramatic impact.

        1. Drew Meyers

          Totally agreed…we’re working on adding the geo layer to those shared interests/experiences.

  24. mikenolan99

    My favorite Onion story: Entire Facebook Staff Laughs As Man Tightens Privacy Settingshttp://www.theonion.com/art…

    1. fredwilson


    2. thinkdisruptive

      The headliine is all that’s needed.

    3. William Mougayar

      Funny. Too close to reality.

  25. Dave

    the core issue at a deeper level isn’t even privacy though it seems to be. The core issue is providing Choice to all customers using sharing software. This is a basic economic dynamic introduced with the click in the 90’s and that it is being treated as if it is “tricky” to do is creating natural space in the marketplace that is pulling demand to it over time. I understand the issues with the business model discussion are not easy but by freely offering Choice to consumers of sharing software, the market will be allowed to dictate freely what really matters over time. This will allow businesses to be able to react more efficiently to changes in demand as opposed to creating barriers that produce altered demand over time.I’m not technical but love reading opinions here, so my main point is simply how this would help to see around potential miscues in perceived valuation. The main reason I see value in looking at it this way is to provide consumers with incremental choices about how much is privacy really worth(?) without creating false dichotomy. Social sharing is a crucial tool set but other kinds of utility should be built into software. If this is done in a fragmented manner I suspect the result will be chains of social islands popping up from out of nowhere. The Choice dynamic demands that some enterprises face the consumer directly. The transparency argument is no less important here (over time) than it is in any financial enterprise imo and will spur surprising innovation along with volatility.

    1. ShanaC

      what will a social island look like?

  26. Elia Freedman

    Two thoughts: 1) how many social public graphs can a single person be a member of? Doesn’t that limit the number of public social sites? 2) It seems to me like you talked about this the other day with single user utility in a social network. That seems to be directly related to public versus private social networks, too. http://www.avc.com/a_vc/201

    1. Barry Nolan

      Think of graphs as gravity. The greater the mass, the greater the draw. Most are probably weak, ephemeral and passing.

      1. Elia Freedman

        I understand that but it still begs the question: how many social graphs can one person participate in? Which leads to a second question, which is how limiting is that on the number of public social graphs available? Private strikes me as different because there doesn’t need to be as much buy in to get people to use it.A private social graph, by nature, only needs buy in from the small group who are participating. This means there could be hundreds but none reaching any reasonable size. It only needs to provide utility to the small group participating.

        1. Barry Nolan

          I sometimes wonder do terms such as ‘graph’ give a false sense of importance and science. Boil it all down, you’re after engaged eyeballs and the’ve have a billion eyeball watching.

        2. Drew Meyers

          Everyone I’ve seen that tries to engage in more than 3-5 social networks fails to succeed at any. It’s like anything — without commitment to something, it just doesn’t work.

          1. fredwilson

            I do a good job four or five if you include the AVC community as one

          2. Drew Meyers

            Yes, blogs definitely count in that mix.

        3. Richard

          Great Point. Most people long to be non-anonymous. Zuch figured this out early.

  27. whitneymcn

    I was thinking about this just yesterday, which led to twittering: ” is Snapchat, intentionally or not, a response to an Internet that’s increasingly focused on persistence and memory?”We’re getting access to our full Twitter archives, FB timeline goes back forever, Timehop mines your Foursquare (and other) digital history, Path just bulked up their search…We had an era where apps and services were getting us used to the idea of dropping digital breadcrumbs that didn’t seem important, and that ended up working for many people. Now we seem to be moving into an era of taking the personal history that has accreted across the internet and trying to make useful or interesting things out of it.But some of what was wonderful about the breadcrumb era (as with other internet eras before) was the perception, however inaccurate, that this stuff was ephemeral. We don’t always want it coming back to haunt us, and I think there’s going to be a parallel stream of stuff like Snapchat that takes the opposite tack to the archival/lifemining stuff that’s coming out now.Hmmm…years ago I thought about a building a community tool called “Summer Camp” based around the idea of a place where you could be whoever you wanted to be for purposes of that limited time and place. Perhaps its time has come… 🙂

    1. PhilipSugar

      This is a really good point. With storage so cheap, I think the default becomes save everything forever. But when you are talking about social is that what you always want? Do you want people to know what you were what your social graph was like in High School? or College? Probably not…as an example everybody gets a fresh start at College, what would it be like if that wasn’t the case.

  28. karen_e

    What I savor about this post is how the mobile and online habits of your kids and friends are always under observation. I have found it already so amusing watching my toddler interact with laptops, phones, and tablets and all the media we select for him. It won’t be long til I get to learn from him – and bring my learnings to work!

  29. Drew Meyers

    Based on my recent conversations, privacy is certainly a feature. It comes up in every discussion I have since we’re building one central dashboard for you to keep tabs on the locations of everyone you truly care about — with the goal of maximizing your in person time while traveling with people that matter around you (whether you know them already or not). A big part of the model is of course people sharing their current location — and that is a very, very private thing for many people. Many want to check-in and only have that location viewable by 2 or 3 people.

  30. Walker Fenton

    Would be interested to hear your thoughts about our service, Glassboard (www.glassboard.com), which is a private social network for groups. We built Glassboard from the ground up to be private. Unlike Snapchat or Poke, messages & photos don’t expire, its more for persistent dialog on a variety of topics (not chat) for a group of people. Take a look!

  31. Mark Dascoli

    I wonder if we’re overusing identity online. Anonymity has often been associated with trolls, but when location and other non-identifying information can be used to associate people, perhaps we can think differently.I tested this idea with an iPhone app called Stashpix, where a user can find and leave behind photos anonymously that can only be seen by people within 100 meters. It hasn’t really caught on, but I think there’s potential in the concept.In the same way that snapchat and others are pushing the idea that not everything that happens in your graph needs to be permanently recorded, I’m thinking that permanent things in the collective graph don’t necessarily need to be associated with an individual, especially if they’re location relevant: food pics, etc…

  32. RapidCloudSolutions.info

    “…whether the feature that makes Snapchat special <snip> is the basis for a standalone app and business…”.Yeah, Gadgeteer! Congratulations!! You’ve seen the light!!! I’m glad my preaching has helped…..institutionalized copycats <snip> can and will copy it….That’s called “aggregation” and it’s been done for centuries. Aggregation usually involves a company buying another company for it’s technology and making it a subsidiary. Today you’re gonna’ see more and more composition occuring. Composition is a stricter form of aggregation and it implys ownership. So, companies will buy other companies for their technology and collapse them into the purchasing company. The reason, I think, that composition will be more common is that software companies that buy other software companies will want to take advantage of “integrating” that software into their pre-existing systems instead of operating to disparate systems..Back to your main topic privacy. Of course people want privacy. It’s a form of control. They want to control their lives. Even though most allow theirselves to be enslaved they still *desire* to impose some form of control over at least some small aspects of the personal life..HealthRMS (formerly eMOS) and SafetyRMS both offer the ability to save data locally and to apply data to the main ecosystem. This is not hard to provide as a software feature and should be considered by all software developers as “status quo” for the future.

  33. andy roth

    Antisocial may be the only market bigger than social. There is a fundamental shift happening around identity and authentication that most people are too distracted to see…

    1. Michael Brill

      What do you mean by this?

      1. andy roth

        I’m thinking of “antisocial” as technology that allows users to interact while minimizing their personal data.Potential market is total number of connected devices around the world.Just my opinion! (for what its worth, I was the Chief Privacy Officer at American Express for the last 6 years)

        1. Michael Brill

          I do wonder if the need for privacy will come anywhere close to the value derived from disclosure. That is, there are obviously numerous scenarios where various forms of privacy are highly desirable, but if we can trade anonymity for value, then I think non-anonymous interactions will be far greater in number and in value.For instance, you just freely offered up your identity in exchange for establishing credibility – that has value to you. If revealing your identity simply had more ads for credit cards shoved at you, then maybe you wouldn’t.

    2. fredwilson

      Who are the leading companies and products in the antisocial market?

  34. Patrick Landers

    Agreed that Snapchat is a high profile example that shows there is some market potential in privacy. But also to the temporary. One can speculate that Snapchat could make a business out of owning the private and temporary sphere around its users. In that scenario, a user might share his or her location, thoughts and photos first with Snapchat, and then be asked, in essence “do you want to permanently share this on Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook?” Saying ‘yes’ would perform a “permanent share” as we do today. Saying ‘no’ would merely share it with one’s Snapchat friends. In this way Snapchat could move from application to platform, with a much more envious position right next to the consumer. As to a business model (since selling data is constrained), one idea might be to continue the temporary theme and associate these vanishing artefacts with similarly temporary and vanishing discounts based on the users immediate location, which brings us back to the local advertising market.

  35. Bob Whaler

    Great post Fred.I wonder if it will always be a spectrum of privacy needs, hence the using of different apps with different social graphs based on degree of privacy, or this is a step in a direction towards more privacy—or complete privacy.The reason I ask is a few years ago, people in her demographic couldn’t care less about privacy—it was a defining characteristic of the digital natives.Now, as these social networks leverage private information for monetization purposes, we see an awareness and value of privacy, and a subsequent change in behavior.My guess is it will continue to be a spectrum, but the trend will move more and more to privacy, and the next generation of social media sites which can make money without salaciously capturing every detail about people’s lives will win. It’s why I think Tumblr is on to something.With that said, the spectrum will also include a more public persona, the way we manicure our linkedin or professional twitter presence.

  36. JamesHRH

    MVP= missing core attribute = focused UX = consumer value100% correct to map the missing attributes of the B2C web and fill the gaps.

  37. William Carleton

    Mode of engagement that has yet to be realized in a big way: something that shares the monetization, however modest, with the user who generates the content. Quick example: though one could frame the Instagram fiasco in terms of privacy or user control, one could also imagine the celebrity or professional photographer user who would not have minded FB montetization of posted work as long as revenue split 70/30 between user/FB.

    1. fredwilson

      getty has been trying to do this for the past two years. they bought a company in israel and have built a system that does this. the problem is that big companies like FB, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc don’t have much incentive to do this.

  38. Dasher

    I don’t see snapchat as a long standing thing. It has traction because of its novelty factor, but I don’t see main stream use for it at a global scale. Same thing with facebook poke feature. They will discontinue it. Remember the old poke functionality?

  39. RichardF

    I don’t think there is any shame in facebook copying anything the shame is that they didn’t invent it themselves.

  40. thinkdisruptive

    Snapchat only provides an illusion of privacy/security, and not a very good one at that. It is a gimmick, and unlikely to have a sustainable business model, which means it will need to be acquired to survive, and in the process, may lose its defining feature.Right now is the era of social connectivity, but that shouldn’t lead anyone to believe that the desire and need for privacy has disappeared. (If anything, the persistence of everything only strengthens the need for anti-persistence/privacy.) There are so many things we all did as young people that are best left behind and forgotten — I can’t imagine how oppressive it would be if everything I did in different times persisted.I think an application that truly made me invisible for a while, or offered the ability to curate and clip undesirable chunks out of existence would be killer. Bigger than Facebook, Twitter, Google, the OS, etc.

  41. Jesse

    Speaking of figuring out what’s next, I’ve been thinking about a Snapchat/turn-based Chatroulette with people nearby called OpenPoke: http://jfornear.co/openpoke/ (mockup/WIP)

  42. johnmccarthy

    Snapchat’s Ghost logo, looks like the younger sister of Evidon’s Ghosty. http://www.Ghostery.com……Agreed this year will be a big year for privacy.

  43. David Roman

    I know many people tend to look towards the youth to decipher possible trends but I don’t feel that is very efficient means.I’ll tell you why. I am a basketball fan and I like to follow localized high school basketball so I go to hyped games in the area. Whenever I go to these games I of course observe and take in the environment and observe certain behaviors and one assumption that I can draw every time, which I’m sure every one here could remember as well– but when we’re that young we really have not a clue what we’re doing. Most of our behaviors are driven not by value– but rather irrationally by the notion of being cool being priority and as we all know, as we get older, mature and think more rationally our behaviors drastically change.So to base the premise for your startup off of the behaviors of our youth can ultimately end up costing you and really in my opinion– the most important assumption we can draw from our youth with tech is that the willingness to embrace it will not change. How and what and why they do will change– but the fact of their willingness to embrace will not.So my views are to leverage that notion to create a great sense of optimism to use as inspiration as the willingness to embrace creates an environment most likely susceptible to innovation.Get excited, my friends. The future of our industry looks more and more attractive everyday!

  44. Charlie Crystle

    The privacy issue is one thing that hampered Jawaya…(hampers). People were reluctant to share their search streams, and the methods we came up with weren’t fluid/acceptable (to me anyway).I use Facebook largely for publishing & promoting the gardens. Occasionally to see what’s going on.Twitter, mostly for publishing links, sometimes for getting links from others.etc, etc, etc. So how does privacy pay into your thesis? Does it?

  45. Mark Weinstein

    Hmmm – privacy as a core value – I love it! Have you heard of SGROUPLES.COM? This is the “World’s Private Social Network.” We began building over two years ago, when the titans of the Internet (Jobs, Schmidt, Zuckerberg) declared that “privacy is dead.” I said: NO F——- WAY!We’ve spent the past two years being laughed out of the halls of VCs because we said privacy is important and a fundamental right of law abiding people everywhere, online and offline. The Internet was not supposed to take that away. We’ve been brainwashed since the advent of Facebook to believe that it is perfectly acceptable for social companies to exploit their users for personal gain and to creepily attach cookies to us as we surf the web. Sgrouples.com has been featured in FORBES, INC, FOX NEWS, and many other prominent media outlets because we seek to radically alter that paradigm to one that respects our users and treats them as the partners that they are. At Sgrouples, we create a space where our users can share privately, comfortably, and without fear. We encourage them to Practice Safe Sharing by inviting real life friends, family, and communities to become one of their Contacts, and share what they want with exactly who they want, just like in real life.Here is a blog I wrote announcing our live launch: http://blog.sgrouples.com/w…The privacy revolution is REAL. Companies like Sgrouples, Snapchat, and DuckDuckGo are leading it.

  46. André DeMarre

    Self-destructing photos are a form of DRM.

  47. KevinMHughes

    This is a great post!! What the college friend you spoke about is exactly how I utilize my social media. I’m looking forward to an app that can encompass all the current social media services/apps as well as the privacy needs/wants we are all looking for

  48. laurie kalmanson

    yes to all, plus this: paid network where i am not sold and there are no ads. privacy has its privileges.

  49. Fraser

    I may be splitting hairs, but this is an important topic that I want to understand. And so I think out loud, in the form of a comment.I do not believe that ‘privacy’ itself is a feature, in the sense that photo sharing, location sharing, and status sharing are. I’ve hired photo sharing products. I’ve hired location sharing products. I don’t think I’ve ever hired a product that was simply ‘privacy.’In the case of Snapchat, I think privacy is an attribute of the feature but the feature itself is ‘instant message.’In the example above, the woman is hiring Snapchat for the job of communicating with friends, in an authentic way, without the risk of embarrassment.Jenna Wortham touches on this in a post on the NYT Bits blog: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.c…So does Jordan Crook in this post on Techcrunch (read from the last heading onward): http://techcrunch.com/2012/…Much like Kik is an instant message feature, where the ability to have an anonymous username differentiates it from Whatsapp, Snapchat is an instant message feature where the temporary nature of what’s shared differentiates it from other messaging features.Through this lens, it’s interesting to think that we’re moving to a world where we have a variety of IM features on iOS, each hired to do a slightly different job. I think we’ll see other mobile OS features evolve similarly.

  50. Bill Herbert

    Why can’t photos be marked or embossed with some metadata that identifies them as “do not use commercially” or “do not distribute” and then make it a crime to do so?That way Facebook or others would have a clear way to quickly filter these out of the stream that *might* be used in a commercial or ‘sponsored story’ or whatever. Then if you found one used illegally on a Facebook ‘sponsored story’ you could file a legal claim with the FCC for say, $5,000, against the perp. That would put a stop to the nonsense.However, the rest of the photos would be fair game, and if you found that one of your photos ended up where you didn’t want it – it would be your mistake. It’s sort of like a private property issue, if you ask me. People should have the right to post something to a group of friends without fear that it will be lifted and used somehow against their wishes.

  51. OurielOhayon

    here is the problem: there are only 20 spots on the home screen. but a lot more basic needs to solve. they can t all end up on the homescreen..

  52. Brian Carr

    If anything, Facebook learned from Google about being an institutional copycat: Froogle was going to kill Amazon; Gchat was going to kill AiM; Orkut was going to Kill Friendster/Facebok; Google Base was going to Kill CraigsList; Gmail has Not Killed Yahoo Mail or Hotmail; Google Docs was going to Kill MS Word/Office; Chrome was going to Kill IE. Some inroads, but no killers.

  53. Elie Seidman

    A construct that I’ve been using. What do you think? Sephora pulled cosmetic sales out of the department store. The jeans boutiques did the same. Instagram pulled photos out of Facebook (Facebook’s killer feature). Twitter pulled out status updates. If Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare etc are all features of the mobile OS and many of them are pulled out of Facebook – and made better by doing so – what else will get pulled out as we move from general purpose, “does-everything”, apps to specific features. The other general purpose app on the home screen of every OS is email. What’s in email that should be pulled out as a stand alone feature of the OS? I have an idea for one thing.