At long last, there is a program out there for the many that worry about their image on the Web. Researchers in Germany have developed X-Pire, a program that will kill off your images at a fixed time so that they don’t stay online forever.
X-Pire will put an expiration date on any picture posted online, thereby removing anything that might be embarrassing or scandalous. Once a picture passes the set date, it cannot be viewed or copied. Prior to posting, the software asked the user for a date at which time the picture will be removed. Any photos posted using the software, however, can only be viewed by those who download a free X-Pire add-on, something that for the moment is only available on Firefox. However, if the expiration date on the photo has passed, the image cannot be viewed.
Thus far, X-Pire has worked successfully most notably on Flickr, Facebook, among other websites. The software will cost a small monthly fee, and failure to pay will see all expiration dates disappear.
The idea has been in the works for a year and half, and the impetus comes from the fact that many users are impulsive, careless, or pressurized when posting pictures that in retrospect should probably not be made public.
It will be curious to see if and how people will use this software. It is hard to speculate on at which point in life, be it months or years, one will not want certain pictures viewed. If there is a point in someone’s life where they feel they need to remove certain pictures from the online realm, that moment will likely be more sudden and spontaneous than foreseen. What’s more, it is hard for many people to comprehend the permanence of the Internet, as the generation that has embraced it is still very young. X-Pire should incline people to at the very least think about what their online identity will be once they die. It is a morbid thought, but while the human body will expire and fall away, the words, pictures, and videos we upload to the web may very well linger ad infinitum.