Snapchat-style self-destructing email service created
Published 11/04/2014 | 08:00
A Snapchat-style self-destructing email serviced has been created by two Harvard law students.
Pluto allows users to unsend emails at any time, unlike Gmail which currently only offers their users five seconds to stop any embarrassing errors being sent. With Pluto, you also have the ability to edit sent emails if the recipient has not yet opened the email.
If you’re constantly wondering whether or not somebody has actually read your email, Pluto can also inform you when a recipient has opened your message.
The service is not a standalone email provider itself. Users of existing email clients such as Gmail, Apple Mail and Outlook simply need to sign up – although there is currently a waiting list of approximately 1,500 people. Importantly, the recipient does not need to sign up to Pluto in order for these features to be utilised by the sender.
The idea of the self-destructing message follows the success of Snapchat, in which images appear for one to ten seconds only. Telegram, another messaging app, has also proved successful for those in need of greater privacy: messages sent using the service are heavily encrypted and can also self-deconstruct.
Similarly to apps like these, the creators have attempted to address privacy concerns surrounding email. David Gobaud and Lindsay Lin, both Harvard students, say that the service “addresses the issue that once you send an email you lose control of it.”
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, co-founder David Gobaud added: “When you have conservations in real life, it doesn’t follow you for the rest of your life.”
“Sure, there are some business emails or emails related to a contract you might want to keep but most other emails, you want them to go away.”
Sending emails via Pluto should make the process more secure as it gives you “better control of email forwarding”. For example, if you send an email via Pluto and the recipient forwards it on, the message will still expire or unsend for those strangers.
In addition, attachments are stored in the cloud and once a user unsends an email or if it expires, the attachments are deleted. Although this does not delete files off a recipient’s hard drive if they have downloaded it previously, it will stop attachments being accessible from the recipient’s inbox.
The creators also hope that the self-destructive nature of the emails will mean that recipients respond more quickly to emails. Pluto suggests subject lines such as “This message self-deconstructs at midnight” or “Open within the next 2 hours for a special invitation” to grab their attention.