Self-destructing messages are messages that are destroyed as soon as they have been read. The sender can select a time limit for when the message will be deleted from their device if the receiving party does not view it.
The concept is that once the message has been read, it is instantly lost. This concept was first introduced on Apple’s operating systems in iOS 8 and is used extensively in the app iMessage.
What is a Self-destructing Message?
The first use of self deleting text message was in the video game series Metal Gear Solid. In these games, players would leave messages for each other and then erase them. The message would be erased from the screen and from the recipient’s memory. Digital security was high on the developers’ minds: if a player tried to save a message, it would become corrupted because of an encryption key that would be deleted after the message was deleted. The messages are not deleted from the database, but the data is overwritten with new data, making the encrypted information unreadable for hackers.
A different example of self-destructing messaging is in iMessage. It was introduced with iOS 8 and can be selected on an individual basis. When one user sends a message to another, that message is stored on their Mac or PC as normal until it has been read by the receiver. After this point, they will automatically delete it from their device. If the message is not opened, it will disappear after a maximum of seven days. This feature can be used for good or for evil. Messages that are sent with self-destructing messages can be saved to the iOS device with third-party apps, or even on a computer through iTunes.
Self-destructing messages are very popular in messaging apps, where they are commonly initiated by the sender so that their message will only last for a set amount of time or until it has been read.