Self-destructing text messages: HR friend or foe?

by Janie Smith11 Jun 2014
It may be something more likely to be reserved for the world’s spies, but self-destructing text messages are now a reality for everyone. A new app has been launched allowing for parties to have candid and private conversations without the fear of the text messages being permanently stored or inadvertently shared.

The app called Confide works by concealing the text message with each word blocked out. To reveal the word the receiver swipes a finger over them then the message disappears once fully read. The texts are not archived and the app does not allow for screen shots to be taken of the messages.

So should HR sanction the use of the self-destructing texting in the workplace?
 
Athena Koelmeyer, managing director at Workplace Law, told HC that as smart as apps such as Confide and Snapchat appear at eliminating evidence of a message, there is always “someone or something smarter out there” to catch out users.
 
“While people may think that these ‘confidential’ apps or communication options can be used for bullying or sexual harassment without risk of being caught, people once thought the same thing about email and social media sites like Facebook, and we know now that those are great sources of evidence.
 
“As we have already experienced in our practice, with ‘disappearing and apparently untraceable forms of communication – for example, instant messaging services – every person in receipt of those messages has a camera in their phone and will simply take photos or video of the message before it disappears.  These photos and videos of the offending messages then become the source of a bullying or sexual harassment complaint and the sender is no longer feeling quite so smart.”
 
Have you dealt with any workplace bullying involving disappearing messages?
 

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