The Benefits And Consequences Of Self Destructing Messages

On the surface, there seem to be only two ways to handle the problem of deleting a messages: you can delete it from your device and/or delete it from your recipient’s device. But what if you wanted to send a message that was automatically deleted after it was read? Such an ephemeral message would have certain desirable benefits and consequences.


There are some obvious benefits that come with self-destructing messages. If a message self-destructs after it is read, then it doesn’t need to be stored on the recipient’s device. This means that you don’t have to worry about your private note going over the recipient’s data limits and/or accidentally deleting its contents. If your message self-destructs, then you don’t have to worry about sending a copy of it to anyone else. In other words, you don’t need to worry about leaking messages or sending them in error.

Message Deletion Costs

If a recipient doesn’t have the ability to delete a message, then there will be another copy of it sitting on their device, even if the original message self-destructs. This means that the recipient has to store that extra copy of your message unless they have deleted it themselves. If you use ephemeral messages and have sensitive information in them, then you don’t have to worry about accidentally sending them to someone who can read them. Removing these copies from recipients’ devices is less expensive than sending out copies as-is again and again.

Message Retention Costs

Messages sent using private note messages may not actually self-destruct after being read. An ephemeral message doesn’t necessarily delete from the device after being read. Instead, it simply disappears from the device after the recipient is finished reading it. This means that there is a period of time during which a copy of the message exists on the recipient’s device. If you use ephemeral messages, then it will cost you as much to store these copies as it would to store an actual copy of your messages.

Encryption Issues

With private note messages, there is no way to be sure that your message doesn’t get forwarded or leaked if you use some other app that allows messaging while driving or while using other apps. This could happen even if your message self-destructs, because there is no way to be sure that the recipient’s device doesn’t retain a copy of your message.

Recipients’ Device Impact

Using private note messages means that recipients’ devices could potentially get damaged or destroyed by an accident. When a person sends out a message, it is stored on the recipient’s device and then sent to the intended recipient. If this process gets interrupted (e.g., due to a crash), then the original copy of the message may be lost forever, just like it would be if you deleted it yourself.

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