The equivalent of taking a tangible document, sprinkling it with salt, and eating it whole seems to be here in the digital world. While you still hear some tales of people eating a piece of paper containing information they don’t want read, you have to wonder what happens after in digesting those documents. Most people don’t even want to know what happens if someone in authority tries to retrieve those documents later, assuming the guilty party didn’t tear it up into little pieces first.
In seems SnapChat was initially created with this idea in mind without having to rue the day destroying comments someone wasn’t proud of sending. And while geared toward a younger generation, ShapChat probably did Generation Y a lot of favors not having some of their online comments and pics scrutinized later when applying for jobs. This can be done despite new claims SnapChat can be hacked to retrieve messages supposedly vanished into the ether.
Despite those new concerns of data possibly never being truly deleted, other companies are starting to see the value of destroying online comments rather than archiving them. Unlike Twitter that stores everything we tweet into the Library of Congress, other programs taking SnapChat’s lead are starting to be created for businesses. One of them is making it easier than ever right through your web browser.
The Advent of Self-Deleting Message Programs
The above program that deletes messages off your browser is called OTR, and it’s a simple app that attaches to any mainstream browser available today. This includes Chrome, Firefox, plus Internet Explorer. Since it launched last year, it’s already made inroads in the workplace, namely because it provides a convenient message box where you can send quick notes to fellow employees that self-destruct after being read.
While this might seem like a SnapChat knock-off (it was called ChatSnat before having a convenient name change), there hasn’t been anything like it before for browsers. Using this, you don’t have to worry about signing into SnapChat just to hold an immediate conversation with a peer discussing something considered a little controversial.
Yes, the workplace is still a place where talking about grievances with fellow employees is going to happen sooner or later. These negative comments done in the context of conferring with fellow employees is perfectly legal, even if the workplace might be monitoring those comments when placed on social media. With OTR, you’ll never have to worry about a boss finding out what was said hours, days, or weeks after the fact.
While this could be problematic for bosses who want to keep their employees from plotting some kind of business mutiny, it’s going to give much more power to employees in getting what they want (and usually deserve). It could also help employees plot out their exits to get out of a job without having to archive messages that could haunt them later.
The only problem might be if a company has a policy not allowing these browser extensions to be installed. However, with more self-destructing programs likely on the horizon, will employees find secret methods in using them behind the scenes?
Self-Destructing Program Options
Other apps and services exist beyond OTR in deleting media after it’s sent to a recipient. Plus, many, many more programs are likely going to be created this year to give more options and perhaps methods in keeping them from being seen. None of them are going to be useful if an employee gets ratted out for using one against a particular policy. We have to hope the programs can be used in ways that can’t be discovered readily on a computer. With that in mind, it might be painfully ironic that apps deleting media may have to self-delete on their own in order to not be discovered.
This might be possible later so the app can be downloaded only when needed and not permanently stuck in a browser’s app list. Then again, all this media deleting may end up being detrimental to recording our future as Twitter’s doing. While some might consider the Twitter archiving a waste of time other than when something historical happens, a culture deleting all their content is equivalent to the Mayans leaving nothing behind in why they disappeared.
If we ever disappear as a culture, we’ll need to think about keeping something behind, no matter how embarrassing it may be in our collective ramblings that led to our undoing.