Consider what happens to text once you submit it to Facebook. Unless it’s a private message, it is likely both public and permanent. A message you posted five years ago, which felt like it was visible only to a small group of friends, still exists on your timelines, where it has become more, not less, visible over time. Facebook is now in the process of making that post searchable, making it more visible than ever and fundamentally changing what it is — not a post on a wall, or on a profile, but a field in a searchable database. Facebook’s effect on data is to make it permanent, to make it easy to find. Facebook memorializes everything you give it, including likes, comments, and reactions — an awkward layer that exists to assure you of engagement, which contrasts sharply with Snapchat’s characteristically ephemeral but deeply satisfying instant read receipts.

Snapchat’s effect on all data is to cause it to deteriorate… If you do nothing on Snapchat, you disappear from Snapchat. This is a profound difference: Facebook profiles stay public whether or not they’re current, and only change if you update or delete them. Snapchat profiles only exist when you ask them to, and they go away as soon as you stop thinking about them.

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