Have you heard about the new app, Wut? The prescient tech blog Gizmodo hails Wut as “I am a butt” (sorry for the promotional copy; I’m pulling it from Wut’s own website). Wut sends out messages people can read on their phone’s lock screen, and these messages go away after people unlock their phone. These messages are described as “anonymish,” meaning that it’s less clear who the desired recipient of a message is.
Wut is, essentially, as Twitter without the @names (the website says that context clues help users figure out message authors). The goal of the app is to lower the amount of metadata a message generates (metadata is the information that the NSA is allowed to sweep up and sift through, i.e. not what you say but the people you say it to and when you say it to them). Whether or not it will be successful is sort of boring and academic at this point (it received one of those large-but-also-meaningless amounts of money from venture capitalists and angel investors).
What is interesting: these services gesture toward a disposable internet. They presume an internet that doesn’t force people to sport every online decision they’ve made like a neck tattoo, which is what the internet has become. The Society for Human Resource Management says that more than three-quarters of organizations use social media for hiring opportunities, absorbing countless personal details of candidates. Either someone spreads their business card personality across their top search results or a hiring manager finds a few pages of personal tweets and pics that make a person seem unaware, lazy, and risk-prone. Even once an individual has a job, her profile can make her seem less than competent.
But employers aren’t the only organization to use social media in shades-of-gray ways. They are not even most people’s main concern. Insurance companies are. Insurance companies hunt for ways to make their clients seem greedy and foolish in case of potential disputes. They prowl social media sites like predators, pouncing on pictures they think are worth thousands of dollars and twisting status updates with the word “okay” in them to make it look like you were never hurt. Photos taken at a barbecue or Christmas party—photos or Vines or Instagram shots made before the accident—can be used to wave off all claims of “suffering” as crybaby tactics.
If you have an open insurance claim, the best way to combat this is to deactivate your accounts, or limit your activity on them as thoroughly as possible. Insurance companies are not your peers. It is not in their interest to “get” what you were doing. They’re not turnt up. Their goal is to turn you down. Assuming the worst about your social media is their best case scenario.