Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 26th 2015 Contents B27
Monday, January 26, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
How many times have you mes-
saged someone on the spur of the
moment only to wish you could
take it back seconds later?
Well, as they say... there s an app
US-based company Strings has
launched an instant messaging app
that lets you "share what you want
with who you want and take it
back, if you want."
It s a catchy motto, but how does
Strings chief executive Edward
Balassanian says the free app allows
you to delete sent messages, images
and videos from your phone as well
as the phone of the person that
you sent them to.
The app also prevents the recip-
ient from downloading, sharing or
even getting a screenshot of your
content without your permission.
The catch is that the recipient
needs to be a user of the messaging
app as well.
"For example, if I create a string
and I add you and two other people
to it, everybody in the string can
see the conversation, but nobody
in the string can add other people
to the conversation without my
permission and can t copy content
out of the string," Balassanian says.
Part of the company s mantra is
"what happens on Strings, stays
on Strings", so you always have
control over the content, he adds.
One person who might have
found such an app useful is Nadia
Rashad-Choudhary, 32, a personal
assistant based in London.
She admits to texting, messaging
and posting content in fits of
anger...and regretting it.
"When I was angry, I would put
up this rant. I would also post quote
images that would relate to the sit-
uation," she says of past incidents.
"About 10 to 15 minutes later I
would think: I shouldn t have done
Rashad-Choudhary recalls post-
ing photos on Facebook of her hav-
ing fun on the same day she had
already called in sick to work.
She d forgotten that her super-
visor was one of her friends on the
social media site.
"I got a warning," she says.
"Work-wise that was my first les-
son never to post anything on Face-
book, or never have work-related
people as friends."
While the Strings app is not the
first of its kind in the market, its
popularity has skyrocketed since
the beta version was launched on
Balassanian says Strings had
1,000 users upon its launch and
has been downloaded more than
40,000 times since.
Other apps featuring messages
that self-destruct after a set time
include Invisible Text and Ansa.
And On Second Thought
allows users to recall texts
before the recipient
receives them and also set
a curfew for messages to
be "embargoed" until the
The complete version
of Strings is set to be
released in a couple of
weeks, but whether it
has the staying power
to succeed in a com-
remains to be seen,
according to ana-
mobility at IDC
says there are
with this type
of app, includ-
the content you
delete is truly
like a Snapchat
proved recently that it (the content)
doesn t actually disappear---there
is a trail somewhere out there," he
says. "It might disappear from each
other phones, but there s no guar-
antee it s
gone if the
on a cloud
once a user
from a conver-
sation, it is
their phone, all
devices it was
shared with, and
the company s
Snapchat, a pop-
app that allows users
to share photos and
videos that automat-
ically disappear after
a few seconds, admit-
ted last year that rogue
third-party apps had
been storing its users
The admission came in
October after hackers
forums claimed that a file contain-
ing at least 100,000 stolen
Snapchat photos had been created.
Despite the controversy, Snapchat
still remains popular among young
people with over 100 million users.
Ajay Sunder, of Frost & Sullivan s
telecoms division, says as long as
the user s content is not on a public
domain and they feel secure that
it will not be used for documen-
tation purposes, people will con-
tinue to use such messaging apps.
"I do see a usage for these kinds
of apps," he says. "(Mainly for) a
younger generation who are much
more brash and open to telling their
ideas and later on realising it might
not be sensible to say everything
out there or message everything
The emergence of these types of
"regret" apps is evidence that peo-
ple are becoming more aware that
they are "leaving bread crumbs all
over the place", says IDC s Putcha.
"There are more cases of these
(posts) coming back to haunt peo-
ple. You apply for a job and they
check your Facebook profile and
see silly photos of you at a party
and check some tweets you ve put
out," he says.
"There are several things that
companies regularly check, and
how do you go back now and delete
all of this?"
The right to be forgotten is no
longer possible in the online culture
of "over-sharing," especially in the
Western world, says Putcha.
"Just try deleting your Facebook
account, that itself is very hard to
do," he says.
While Strings claims it lets users
"pull all the strings" on their con-
tent, some analysts believe there
could be regulatory difficulties con-
cerning the private content that
people want to take back.
And in the wake of the Paris ter-
ror attacks, governments are
increasingly keen to gain access to
messaging app content, says
Prime Minister David Cameron
recently called for a change to
online data laws that would allow
authorities to read private messages,
even if they are encrypted.
"There s no guarantee of com-
plete privacy in a messaging appli-
cation," Putcha adds. (BBC)
...the undo button for instant messaging
Hackers stole photos from messaging app Snapchat. PHOTO: SNAPCHAT
"Something like a Snapchat proved recently that it
(the content) doesn't actually disappear---there is a trail
somewhere out there. It might disappear from each
other phones, but there's no guarantee it's gone if the
messages were stored on a cloud server somewhere"
Despite the app claiming that
you can delete messages
from its servers, analysts say
data may never truly be gone.
---Shiv Putcha, associate director of consumer mobility at IDC Asia-Pacific
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