Internet privacy is an important matter for people these days, and instant messaging programs are not an exception. How many times did you wish to erase a message that you have sent to the wrong person? A new stream of messaging applications is working to fix this issue, since bigger applications like Whatsapp don’t seem to do it.
It is known that our privacy is almost non-existent when it comes to the internet. We share too many aspects of our lives either by uploading last weekend’s party photos to Facebook or by telling everyone what we just did or what we are thinking about on Twitter. Although this lack of privacy is permitted by users, nobody likes to be so easy to track. For instance, photos taken with your iPhone have a geolocation mark, even if you had the “plane mode” activated while you took them. Next time you check your gallery, you will notice that your phone knows the exact place where the picture was taken. Scary, isn’t it?
Other major issue concerning internet privacy is the fact that instant messaging applications are so easy to check if someone wants to see your conversations. In fact, 95% of teenagers use this kind of apps to communicate daily, and a recent study states that 28.8% of them feel controlled because of this lack of privacy.
Most popular messaging applications record everything you write or send for a long time. This is why it is so easy for anyone to check what you wrote, when you wrote it and who the recipient was. Let’s take Whatsapp as an example. Once you write a message there, it’s done. You cannot rewind your action. The message will stay there unless you erase the whole conversation, but even then, the other person will still have your message on the phone, so it will be read no matter what you do. Moreover, if you keep loading past conversations, you will see how many messages have been stored. Of course there are dozens of apps like Line, Facebook Messenger, etc. which do the same thing with your messages, and they are pretty popular nowadays, so they have loads of users filling them with information that cannot be deleted by any means.
Let’s be honest, we all have failed sending a message to the wrong person. In some cases it was harmless for us, but others may have supposed a night on the couch, or even worse. There are some apps which will let you fix that, for instance, Skype realized that this was a useful characteristic for users, so they included a feature which allows you to erase messages when those have been sent. This may seem a good method to protect your privacy, but it’s a bit suspicious, since the other person can see this for every erased selection: This message has been removed. This may lead to tense situations; you have been caught deleting something that you immediately regretted. However, there are more and more privacy crusaders which are arising to create safer apps for people.
“This message will self-destruct in ten seconds”. This is the main philosophy of Snapchat, an app designed by Evan Spiegel which allows users to communicate by sending brief messages that must be accompanied with photos. Spiegel states that this new ephemeral communication (social interaction which doesn’t leave a footprint) is hitting hard these days. The best thing about this app is that you are free to choose when your message gets destructed (in seconds), deleting any trace of it automatically. Although this is a good app, I find it a bit hard for a daily use; I don’t think my friends would like to click a photo of me with my messy hair and my cup of coffee saying “good morning” every single morning. All in all, this app is part of a new digital generation that is more worried about communicating with a few close friends rather than telling your story to the world, like it happens with Facebook or Twitter.
This may be the jewel in the crown regarding this new wave of safe apps. Woowos is the first messaging application which allows you to erase messages and images if you regret them or you send them to the wrong person accidentally. This application was recently created by Spanish developers, worried about user’s privacy. It counts with over 60.000 registered users in 60 different countries, and it is available for iOS.
This app works in a simple way, you can chat with other people like if it was a regular instant messaging tool, but if suddenly you regret a message, you can quickly erase it. Most original thing about Woowos is that the app will let you know the status of your removal with four adorable characters:
- Brian the Postman indicates that the other person already saw your message
- Mark the Spy lets you know that the other user has decrypted your message and read it
- Eric the Prisoner means bad news for you. If you see this character, it means that your message has been erased, but unfortunately, the other user already read it
- Bill the Thief is the best thing that you will see; this character confirms that your message or photo has been erased successfully, without a trace
Alternatively, Woowos allows you to encrypt your messages, so no one can read them without your permission. It works like this: you have to set a secret code that you share with the other person, so only you two know it. Then you can choose to encrypt your messages and send them. Unless the other user knows the secret code, the message will remain encrypted, being nothing more than random numbers, letters and symbols.
Do you think these apps will be new rivals for giants such as Whatsapp or Skype? What is the most embarrasing situation you had when sending messages to the wrong person?