Path just made all your messages disappear. The social networking app, which was long ago called the "anti-Facebook" for its friend list limitations, has pivoted to Snapchat-like ephemeral messaging.
The move was announced late last week, but it's unclear how many of Path's more than 20 million users rushed to screenshot their messages before the app wiped its servers clean on Thursday. See, Path didn't just introduce ephemeral messages going forward: It made all your existing messages retroactively disappear.
But the real question remains: If a message you never planned to send hypothetically disappears, does Path even matter?
Path is an easy target, because the company has latched on to nearly every popular social networking trend. It tried growth-hacking its way up the app install charts by spamming its users' friends. Then the app started selling sticker packs, hopping on a bandwagon (and revenue stream) popularized by messaging apps like Line, Viber, and others. Disappearing messages are the latest inescapable wave, but Path is toddling in after even Facebook and Apple gotten in on the act with Slingshot and iOS 8, respectively.
By announcing that it planned to make all messages retroactively disappear, Path was clearly trying to spur users who hadn't used the app in months (or even years) to sign back in and relive their greatest hits, in the hopes that they would start feeling nostalgic and decided that Path really was worth signing up for. Maybe they would even pledge to open the app more often.
But Path isn't really making the app an experience worth returning to. If your friends aren't using it, there's no reason to come back. Stickers, disappearing messages, photo filters — these things aren't new, and they're better done on other social apps. Path even got rid of the one feature that really set it apart from the pack: The 50-friend maximum. The app originally launched as a way to chat and share moments with your closest friends. That limitation made Path appealing, much like Twitter's character constraints do. Now it's just another social networking app that just deleted all your messages. Shrug.
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