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April 10, 2015

Phantom App Brings Ephemeral Messaging to Social Media

Ephemeral messaging has spiked in popularity this year, with apps like Snapchat cutting into Facebook's user base, enabling users to share quickly disappearing images. The trend of temporary correspondences has even reached business sectors, with projects like Confide allowing you to message sensitive information that quickly self-destructs after reading. Now Phantom is hitting the app marketplace, allowing you to share images with a limited amount of viewers before the files disappear from the web.

Drawing Viewers In

Part of the intrigue surrounding the Phantom app is the allure of secrets. When you link Phantom with your social networks and share an image, it is displayed to your friends and followers as a scrambled, pixilated image that can only be viewed if they press and hold the image on their touchscreens. This allows them to draw "back the curtain" or "lift the veil" on your photo, which can only be seen for a limited amount of time by a set number of people. This highlights the very different goals of ephemeral messaging – while many people set out to get the most views and likes on a post, some people prefer to keep their audiences limited and intimate. Once the time or person limit runs out, the image is wiped from the face of your social media and deleted permanently from the Phantom servers. Poof – gone like a phantom.

 Image Markup

 Users can customize their split-second photo contributions by marking it up with text comments, filters, and drawings. This allows you to exercise your creative whimsy on any number of snapshots, Internet memes, and stock photos. These customizations, paired with the ephemeral nature of the Phantom app, make it a very compelling way to share images and messages with your friends. However, don't get too invested in altering these images, since they'll be gone after a set period of time.

Anti-Screenshot Policies

Much like other ephemeral messaging apps, Phantom takes a stance against screenshots, which allows users to save images for extended viewing later. Some apps take a passive approach to screenshot prevention. For example, Confide requires that you swipe a finger on the screen to slowly reveal words in a message. This can hamper your ability to trigger a screenshot. Snapchat sends a notification when the app catches you taking a screenshot, but this feature can sometimes be circumvented. But Phantom takes a more direct and active approach – they actually ban users if they are caught taking screenshots. This prevention method is stacked on top of the "press and hold" gesture required during the image reveal process. These strict policies make it extremely difficult for users to save the ephemeral messages of Phantom.

It's hard to tell if our culture's fascination with ephemeral messaging is a passing fad or a fixture that is here to stay. In a world where your everyday digital correspondences might live for years stored away on remote servers, it's hard to deny that there is a certain appeal to temporary correspondences. Phantom allows us to capture and share these fleeting interactions on social media.  

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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