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Hey Instagram and TikTok, the Extremely Online Like Me Deserve Some Privacy

Both social media platforms have recently introduced new transparency features meant to better make clear how people are interacting with your account. But aren’t some things best left private?

Instagram and TikTok are blowing up my spot.

Yesterday, Instagram showed me a strange little message at the top of my DMs. “People can now see how fast you typically respond in chats. Showing your response time builds trust and encourages conversation,” it read. 

Sorry, what? “Build trust?” “Encourage conversation?” I’m not on Instagram to do either of those things. I’m there to speculate about the lives of others and look cool. That’s it. Meanwhile, TikTok has begun implementing features that allow you to see who has looked at your account, your videos and even if the content you’ve shared from others has been viewed and shared again. It’s all too much: Please let me just lurk in peace

The problem with both features is that they’re essentially meaningless. I have absolutely no fucking idea how long I usually take to respond in chats. Some people might get a reply instantaneously, while I have months’ worth of DMs in my message request folder that will be left unrequited forever. Whatever average between those two Instagram is offering up to people doesn’t say anything about if, and when, I might respond. 

As for TikTok, I don’t think there’s much to read into my viewing habits, either. So I looked at your profile. Does that mean I want to sleep with you or something? Maybe, or maybe I have all my friends gathered behind me and we’re pointing and laughing at how embarrassing your TikToks are. You’ll never know the difference, so what’s the point in outing me? 

To that end, both features are only going to further fuel our social media paranoia and delusions — e.g., if I DM someone on Instagram who is said to usually respond within four hours and don’t hear back in that window, I’m going to turn it into a reason to feel bad about myself. Which is why I think if Instagram is going to make us suffer like this, they might as well bring back the following activity tab that neatly organized all the pictures the people you follow have liked and commented on in one place, no digging required. And why doesn’t TikTok just serve me a list of exactly who viewed my account? Don’t pick and choose how our Internet psychosis gets to play out — I want all or nothing. 

More largely, though, we all deserve some privacy. Whether you’re lurking out of horniness or boredom, whether you take a week to answer a DM or three seconds, you ought to be entitled to privacy from your peers. Considering it’s practically compulsory that we engage in social media in this way, it doesn’t seem like that much of an ask. And if it is, the very least we can do is cut each other some slack. 

So please don’t be mad at me if I take too long to respond. In exchange, I promise I won’t read too much into you looking at my TikTok.