Before social media went mainstream, communities interacted through forums centered around specific interests, comments on sites like ebaumsworld, and internet chatrooms. Following this sort of internet stone age, digital networks built around the people we see in our daily lives became popular at scale. First MySpace allowed us to share pictures and wall writings with our friends (and Tom). Too many annoying features (don’t use Livin La Vida Loca as your profile song) led to a mass pilgrimage to the social media mecca of Facebook, followed by the eventual emigration to niche-networks like Instagram and Twitter once everyone’s parents found out about it.

Modern society’s permeation into the digital world has gotten to the point where posting a simple Facebook status is equivocable to shouting from your rooftoop for all the world to hear: “Hey literally everyone I’ve ever met, I poured a bucket of ice water onto myself to support charity!” There’s dozens of reasons not to post to the over-inflated social media networks we all frequent. It’s great to have an audience, but is it so bad to share an update with an empty room? Perhaps not.

Phhhoto is an Instagram clone with one key difference: you post cyclical .gifs that move back and forth. The photos created really bring moments to life in a way greater than a standard still image. The background blurs in selfies taken while walking, a basketball flies out of a shooter’s hands and then back again, winks and nods repeat themselves smoothly ad infinitum.

Instagram feeds are clogged with food, nights out, skylines and babies. Phhhoto’s stream manages to stay delightfully empty by comparison. This leaves an important sense of duty to it’s users/pioneers. We must populate the feed. This means that content is judged less harshly, more likely to receive likes, and leaves the medium as a whole open to experimentation. I’ve been churning out multiple shots a day for the last two weeks and I don’t think it has upset my meager following of 12.

However the best part of using a new social media platform such as Phhhoto is the freedom from false followers. False followers being the friends of friends, one time acquaintances, and distant family that prevent us from sharing more personally and more often on more popular mediums. I get serious FOPA (Fear Of Posting Anything) on more popular networks because I know dozens of people won’t really get what I’m trying to say and to be honest, I don’t always care that they see it at all.


At a friend’s recent wedding, the majority of the attendees downloaded WedPics, another Instagram clone. This one limited the userbase to those celebrating the bride and groom and allowed users to “Love” photos in place of liking. The knowledge that the WedPics would not make it to Facebook or the outer digital world combined with the photographable events of the celebration made the app the highlight of the weekend (jk, ceremony obvi).

Similarly to Wedpics, Phhhoto offers users the opportunity to let loose with the content they share. Because of the liveliness of the .gif style images, this leads to lots of selfies of friends making silly faces, yet in a medium more endearing and interactive than snapchat. Using Phhhoto with friends at a music festival allowed us to share digital moments with the people around us. One might suggest a group text as an alternative for sharing pictures, but not everyone has everyone’s contact info and a liking/commenting environment.

There’s truly something special in the emptiness of a new network combined with the foreignness and interactivity of a new media/interface. Although inviting more people to check out the app could risk dampening the magic it currently holds, we can always hop onto the next social network island, so I’ll leave you with this: Are you on PHHHOTO? Follow me: @ATW phhhoto.com/app