Public Posts that Expire

BB Brent Bartlett Public Seen by 53

I think that having a feature that allows your public posts to expire would be very beneficial for Diaspora.

I've loved the concept of aspects as soon as I heard about them. But after using them for awhile, I became aware that they only took care of part of the problem. Posting publicly is problematic, because the whole internet can see it, and it's stored indefinitely. The way I see it, you have two options:

  1. Use your real name, and never post anything controversial in public. (BO-RING)
  2. Use a pseudonym, and post whatever you want. (But your friends can't find you...and if they're doing the same thing, you might not be able to find them. This, as I see it, negates one of the huge benefits of using a social network in the first place: finding people you know, but have lost contact with.)

Lately, I've been doing a little reading about Snapchat. I think that "spoilage" is a very interesting concept. Basically, it's the concept of having posts that "spoil" and are deleted after a certain period of time. I think that having this as an option for Diaspora's public posts could accomplish a couple of things:

*It would prevent the likelihood that a controversial post would come back to haunt you in (for example) a job interview. Of course, you could have settings for a post to expire never, or archive favorite posts so that only you could read them, or to turn off the feature entirely.

*By making posts temporary, you can allow users to do things they couldn't do before: like save images on your server. The disk space problem becomes much less of a big deal when the image will get deleted after a period of time (look at 4chan, for example).


Ruxton Tue 21 May 2013 7:45AM

or 3. Use your real name, be yourself and stand up for what you write/believe in. Why are people so scared of controversial topics? have the conversation, if you don't speak bullshit and argue with merit there's nothing to haunt you.

Also if a "controversial post" comes back to haunt you in a job interview, I'd argue you probably don't want to work for those people anyway. Be yourself online and behave like a considerate human and this isn't an issue.

You can already delete a controversial post, I don't see the point to a post-timeout feature.


Jonne Haß Tue 21 May 2013 12:38PM

I think this would create a false sense of privacy. If you post something public on the internet expect it to stay there. We can't control all services that might cache your post. Most prominently Google.


goob Tue 21 May 2013 1:46PM

Like Jonne, I can't see how this would add anything useful. Once a public post has been indexed/cached by a third-party archive, there is no way to get it removed. (You can try lawsuits, but...)

As with any internet forum, the motto is 'don't post anything [publicly] that you wouldn't be happy for the whole word to read'.

If you later decide that you would rather a post or posts no longer existed, you can go back and manually delete the ones you don't want any more. A little bit of work, but not much, especially if you do it on a regular basis.

I agree with Jonne that having a setting which automatically deleted posts after a set period would introduce a false sense of privacy. Better to think twice before posting...


Florian Staudacher Tue 21 May 2013 2:15PM

I have to stress the main contra point in this discussion:
You can't guarantee that the post will be deleted everywhere it went.
All it would take is an 'evil' pod, that never deletes posts, or maybe even simpler: archive.org
It's unfortunate, but once something's out there, you probably won't be able to get rid of it.


Rasmus Fuhse Tue 21 May 2013 2:29PM

Yeah, Florian. This would also work with private postings.

Thinking about Snapchat: it's a nice webservice, because all messages are going to be deleted. This is fun for the active users - not because of privacy, but because they need to be quick to see something that can only be seen a few minutes/seconds. I guess, Diaspora couldn't copy this fun-aspect, because there are so many lifelong messages here and the users aren't expecting the messages to be deleted after some seconds.

But in fact I would be pleased if I could delete or edit a once sent message in Diaspora. This would be so great. Not in the matter of privacy or of a fun-feature. It would simply be useful.


Jason Robinson Tue 21 May 2013 2:44PM

@rasmusfuhse been thinking of a setting and background job that would clean any old remote posts older than X days, keeping only the link to the original, which the UI would use to render the post if someone decides to access the post in single post view after deleted locally.

Mainly I am concerned about database size for small pods where most of the posts come remotely and are kept forever.

But this is really OT already :)


Rasmus Fuhse Tue 21 May 2013 3:22PM

No, I've been talking about sending DELETE and EDIT activity-objects over the line to inform other pods about the changes. But yeah, probably off-topic. You're right.


Brent Bartlett Tue 21 May 2013 4:04PM

Sites like archive.org can be blocked with a robots.txt file. While it's true that an unscrupulous site could ignore robots.txt, that seems like such an edge case that it should only be worried about if/when it happens. I don't see this as a 100%, be-all, end-all security solution, anyway, just a cool feature.

I'm not really sure what the benefits of old posts are, since 99% of the time people only care about the new ones. Sure, it's great for archiving stuff...but if you really want to archive something, it's better to back it up on your own computer, anyway.


goob Tue 21 May 2013 5:18PM

Brent, I suggested similar in a discussion about having 'public for Diaspora-only' posts, and Jonne pointed out why this really wasn't a good idea. See https://www.loomio.org/discussions/1985

Long and short is: if you don't want the possibility of your posts being archived by third parties, don't make them public.


Brent Bartlett Fri 31 May 2013 6:01PM

@goob Or have two accounts: one with your real name, and one with a pseudonym. That's a good way to double Diaspora's user count! XD

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