Social media have been examined from nearly every angle available; they have been demonized, exulted, dismissed and celebrated for their frivolity. However, no matter what your opinion on the subject, one thing that is clear is that social media is demanding more and more of people’s time in our society. We give social media an inch of our time, and it tries to take a mile.
In this study, I examine various social media websites and apps through a lens of temporality. In order to make money, social media companies structure users’ time in a two-fold manner. First, as Christian Fuchs explains, social media websites are designed to keep users coming back more often, and for longer periods of time. Second, as I argue in this paper, social media structure the content on their sites temporally as well in service of the same goals. This can be done through the imposition of time limits on the existence of data, or through the recollection of data from years past. The imposed temporal regimes of the sites in question – Snapchat, Bumble, Timehop, and Facebook – offer new forms of communication which are interesting to users and keep them engaged, while simultaneously offering capital benefits to the companies that make them. Continue reading