Saving Snapchat: forcing data permanence on disposable media

I’ve been a social information hoarder for almost seven years. I create a lot of content, and I keep it. Forever.

Thanks to social data-mining apps like Timehop, it’s never been easier and more useful to mine, retrieve and contextualize this data. And part of the benefit of being a social over-sharer who also hoards and tracks that content, is the bliss in re-living moments like: teaching my kids to ride their bikes, before/after shots of painting our house, and seeing how far my hairline is receding year over year.

But there’s a problem with my predilection for reminiscing over my social information collection. Ephemeral media. Today, I spend more time on Snapchat than Facebook, Twitter and Instagram combined.

Unlike social content cached by Google or our tweets stored in the Library of Congress, disposable social media networks like Snapchat purposefully don’t let users archive or retrieve content once it has been viewed. Which means Timehop isn’t of much use in resurfacing this data.

As someone who spends their days concerned about online reputation management for my clients (and myself), this is quite refreshing. And liberating. And it allows me to share intimate moments and foster more genuine connections with my friends because the pressure of FOREVER is gone.

However — because it has emerged as my primary social network — there are certain moments I do want to keep and capture and retrieve (privately). These are moments with my kids, my coworkers and nature that are far too valuable to live on Snapchat for 24 hours and then disappear forever.

Saving Snapchat on FacebookSo I’m disrupting the disruption of disposable media by saving it. And in a manner where I can view my Snapchat stories every year on their one year anniversary of being published.

Here’s how:

  1. Every night, locally save your Snapchat Story.
  2. Open Facebook, browse to the video and select it.
  3. Set privacy settings to “Only Me.”
  4. Hit Post.

Then download and install Timehop, and ensure you’ve synced Facebook. One year from today, Timehop will serve you the video of your Snapchat story. And for every year thereafter.

Facebook Saving Snapchat

To be clear, I love the freedom of ephemeral media and the curse of success theater (only sharing the best of who we are as a curated sense of truth). That’s why I’m spending so much more time on Snapchat than the legacy social channels.

But I also love the ability to save the content we create forever for future uses.

As for the challenge of how to parse all this data if we start saving everything, Jason Scott from the Internet Archive put it well at SXSW this year, “I have no fear about future humans with augmented brains being able to sort throug massive amounts of data.”

So let’s save it all! And mine it. Contextualize it. And share it.

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