There’s a ton of hype today about the new Yahoo Messenger app. Remember Yahoo Messenger? There’s a chance it was popular and then nonexistent before you were even born. I personally remember wondering if Y2K would affect Yahoo Messenger (then known as Yahoo Chat).
Here though, I’m writing to discuss the most interesting and controversial new feature of the retooled app: the Unsend button.
Have you ever sent a regrettable text, perhaps late at night, perhaps not during the most lucid of moments? (Hint – A lot of techies are calling the Unsend button the “drunk dial” savior). What would you give to be able to call that text back from the recipient, back into your inebriated brain, and squashed before further trouble or embarrassment? Yes, this includes “selfies” and photo bombs. How short would 2000’s Road Trip have been if Breckin Meyer could have simply “unsent” that video to Tiffany? Perhaps he could have stopped her from making Snakes on a Plane. But I digress…
Any lawyer will tell you that comments which exist “in writing” have infinitely more power than words simply spoken aloud. Spoken comments can be dismissed as “heresay”, while written comments are cold hard evidence.
So, when you Unsend something it’s gone forever, right? Never happened? Wrong!!
Much like the bane of SnapChat, “there’s a hack for that”. It’s called “screenshot”. There’s an ancient Latin saying, “Anything you can see with your eyes, your smartphone can save forever” ~ Quidquid ipsi cernitis oculis vestris felis salvare in perpetuum apud iPhone.
Unsend will delete the message off both your phone and the recipient’s phone (or, heaven help us, the many recipients that you sent the whip cream bikini selfie to) but it might have already been seen. Sure it’s gone now, but perhaps not forgotten.
So, while Yahoo Messenger will allow you to erase the past, the past still did exist at some point and you may not be able to unsend, unlearn, unembarrass yourself completely.
Security application of this advice: DO NOT send any passwords, bank accounts, etc., thinking that you can unsend the info later and keep yourself secure. You can’t.
- Further reading: How Secure is Your Favorite Messaging App?