SUNSET AND MEMORIES: HOW WE BURY AND MOURN DEAD PLATFORMS
Keywords:Social media, platforms, memory, remembering, archiving
Over social media’s first decade, we as users grew to trust that platforms play a role as memory machines: they enable us to share and store our media traces to look back on later, as we remember and make sense of our lives. But not all platforms last forever. What happens when social media platforms are, to borrow a business term, sunsetted? This paper investigates how platforms end, and how people remember them after they are gone. I first conducted a thematic analysis of 20 sunset posts: the final declaration of what a platform has been. I discovered that this genre of communication is designed to spark a sense of loss for the platform that was, and trust in the people who are moving on to new projects. This opened up further questions about if people remember dead platforms, and if so, how they remember them. Responses to a survey of social media users about a platform they used to use that no longer exists will undergo a thematic analysis to identify common themes and patterns in terms of online remembering, nostalgia, archiving, and forgetting. As social media platforms are a relatively new form of media, this research project aims to gain an understanding of how people shift from platform to platform, and how media traces and platforms are remembered and forgotten.