For real time communication, we are all entirely dependent on digital technology. Instant messengers have a prominent role in making our communication comfortable and easy. You can communicate with anyone from anywhere at any time from anywhere in the world. Messengers are beneficial in many ways. Today’s instant messengers allow you to not only send text messages but also images, voice messages, videos, files, and many more.
You can also share your location in real time or connect with your friends for a group voice or video call. But is all of this really free to use? Everything you need has a price. It’s the same with instant messengers. You do pay a price for using such services.
It’s your data.
Centralized messengers, by monitoring your messages, create your digital persona. This digital persona is a consolidation of your preferences and interests. This information is often sold to third parties (and that’s how instant messengers make money!). These third parties can range from an e-commerce company to a political party.
However, every problem has a solution and if you don’t want your personal preferences to be known to third parties, there’s something that you can do about it.
Switch to the best privacy messaging app today.
A Free Lease on Your Data
People communicate with others through messaging applications. On centralized messengers, the messages you send to others will be transmitted through centralized servers.
The servers will route the messages to the receiver from the sender. While transmitting, your messages get stored on their centralized servers and in your device’s local storage.
For example, on the Meta-owned messaging app WhatsApp, the messages you send can be accessed by its legion of more than 15000 content moderators.
Though WhatsApp claims to offer end-to-end encryption, a report shows that WhatsApp moderators can see what you sent, when you sent it, and to whom you sent it.
This happens when someone reports the message. In addition to this, centralized messaging platforms use artificial intelligence to scan metadata information for suspicious or abusive messages.
Metadata is nothing but data about your data. For example, if you’re sending an image to your friend, the metadata information for this image can be
- The type of message that was sent (in this case, a JPEG or PNG file)
- The timestamp of the message
- The size of the message
- Names of the sender and the receiver etc.
The metadata collected by centralized messengers is substantial. On most messengers, only one-to-one chats are encrypted. However, there are several other pieces of unencrypted data that are unprotected and ripe for harvesting. These include everything from your,
- Phone Number
- Profile Photo
- IP Address
- Mobile Device ID
- The Mobile Apps that you’ve downloaded
- Your Battery Level
- Wireless Network Strength
- The Operation System of your mobile device and
- Other details such as usage patterns
Clearly, that’s too much information and your privacy can be compromised.
Messages Can Vanish Without A Trace?
Instant messengers today provide a feature called disappearing messages. These messages have a time limit after which they disappear, usually 5 to 10 seconds. Normally, your messages will always be stored on your device’s local storage and on the servers maintained by the platform. But with disappearing messages, once you’ve set the timer, they vanish without a trace, or that’s what they’re supposed to do.
But are these messages really deleted when you delete them? Not really.
Centralized messaging applications can state that they are end-to-end encrypted, safe, and secure, but they do store and share your data with their partners and vendors. This article here explains how popular centralized messages share your data with third parties.
Messages also don’t disappear on Whatsapp when replied to. So, even after turning on the disappearing messaging feature, messages that have been replied to will remain forever. When a disappearing message is forwarded, it will still be available in the forwarded chat.
When you backup messages to the cloud or your local drive, the entire history of your messages are saved. This includes disappearing messages. In addition to this, the recipient can see the message after it has been deleted in push notifications if they haven’t opened the app for a few days.
In Telegram, disappearing messages are only available in secret chats. The feature is not available for group chats or personal chats. To ensure that your privacy is preserved, you need a decentralized messenger like the BChat private messaging app.
Yes, Messages Do Vanish Permanently
BChat ensures privacy in communications by never storing your messages for longer than 14 days on-chain. These messages are encrypted and can only be accessed by you.
At times, you’d want to save a record of your conversations to look at it at a later date.
However, since BChat doesn’t store your messages for more than 14 days on-chain, this isn’t possible.
Can you then not retrieve your messages sent on BChat?
The entire history of your conversations on BChat are always stored locally on your device, accessible only to you.
But there are times when you’d need no traceability of certain conversations. You might want to communicate something confidential and not have any record of it for later inspection. It might be something personal or related to your work or completely random stuff just off the top of your mind.
That’s why we added a disappearing message feature to BChat that permanently deletes any conversation without a trace when enabled.
Because there needs to be a secure communications channel to send confidential information that auto-deletes after a preset time.
You can set the preset time for disappearing messages on BChat anywhere from 5 seconds to a week.
So whom does the disappearing messages on BChat help?
Well, it’s literally everyone but there is a certain section of people who may benefit from it more than others.
- Specifically, journalists covering controversial topics
- Businesses sharing highly confidential information such as trade secrets
- Communication in oppressed regimes
are a few of the examples.
How Do Disappearing Messages Work?
Disappearing messages can be set by either person in the conversation and they are deleted for both the sender and the recipient.
For example, if you set the timer to 5 seconds, then messages are deleted for the sender 5 seconds after it has been marked sent and for the sender, 5 seconds after it has been delivered.
The disappearing messages you send won’t be stored anywhere in the local storage either. Thus, they cannot be retrieved by backing up the data to your local storage. Users can extensively customize the timer as shown below.
- 5 seconds
- 10 seconds
- 30 seconds
- 1 minute
- 5 minutes
- 30 minutes
- 1 hour
- 6 hours
- 12 hours
- 1 day
- 1 week
When this feature is enabled, it is indicated to both parties on the chat screen.
Would you want to back up your messages or have them thrown into oblivion? Try it here.