Private stories aren’t as simple as they seem

Neha Seenarine, Arts & Life Editor

Several social media platforms allow their users to post content to a selected group of followers better known as private stories, but the post is not just between you and your five friends.

In 2013, Snapchat launched private stories for its consumers. Users are allowed to make separate stories with specific people to view it and those who are not added will not know there was a private story made. Other social media platforms followed suit with Instagram introducing “Close Friends” in 2018 and Twitter adding “Twitter Circle” last year.

I utilize a different type of private story almost every day, whether it’s sharing an odd experience on Snapchat or a raunchy meme on Instagram’s Close Friends. I’ve had my social media accounts since middle school and sometimes I think to myself, “My lab partner from 10th grade chemistry doesn’t need to see this.” I doubt they care, but I would prefer to share content with my friends who might relate to it.

Perception is vital on social media and we can’t control how people see us in person or online. Despite my retweets of Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow or my selfies on Instagram, some content is just not meant for everyone to see.

I’m a fan of using this feature, but I know it’s not entirely private.

On private stories, I add my friends I talk to all the time or people I find cool. The big idea is only they can view the content. However, it does not always end up true.

It’s naive to think your friend won’t show your tweet from Twitter Circle to the person right next to them or screenshot your “Close Friends” story and send it into a group chat. Although Snapchat alerts its users when someone takes a screenshot, it doesn’t stop a person from grabbing a secondary device and taking a picture of the story.

I’m guilty of being the “bad” friend. My mutuals on social media add me to their private stories and their content can be hilarious. There have been times where I screenshotted the stories and shared them with other people. My intentions are never foul, but you never know what motives other people can have.

Users on social media should post whatever they want at their own discretion. However, the mentality of thinking a private story will stop an outside bubble from viewing it may not be the correct thought process. If you’re not comfortable sharing a tweet about how rude your friend was today to the public, what is the value of sharing it with three people exclusively? You may never know if one out of three people chooses to share it with others.

If a post from one of my private stories was exposed, I wouldn’t care too much. I know my posts wouldn’t be harmful to my reputation. Also, my intention is to share content with a direct audience that I know may like it.

In the digital age, college students are expected to have professional profiles. Job recruiters tend to look for employees with unproblematic posts. However, this puts a boundary on college students because they may be afraid to retweet a video with vulgar language or post a picture of them at the bar.

Private stories do give people the opportunity to express themselves in different ways, but in the digital age, privacy only goes so far.