Before Snapchat: The Introduction of the Vanishing Message

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Sending messages has been an incredibly important part of human communication for a while now. The internet has made the process of sending messages to others so much faster and easier. For example, apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and many others have messaging features in which you can contact any other person who uses the app. No matter how far away they are from each other, users can send messages and communicate with one another. More specifically, Snapchat messages vanish after 24 hours. Snapchat had a specific role in changing the way that people communicate. The fact that messages disappear makes the app far different from any other messaging app that exists. How did people destroy messages before the internet?  

Before the Internet, people sent messages to each other by telegram. In order to send a telegram, you could so up to a telegraph company office or call them by telephone. Then, you could compose your message. Usually, you would try to compose your message to be as brief as possible because you were charged by the word. After that, a telegraph worker would change your message into morse code. The correct office would receive the message and type or write it. Then, the message got hand delivered. The telegraph workers were required to sign confidentiality agreements, but complete privacy was not guaranteed. For example, in an attempt to keep everyone’s messages private, the messages were encrypted. Sending telegrams was pricey, so most people sent brief messages that couldn’t possibly reveal anything too personal.  

Sending a telegram was not the only way people sent messages to each other before the internet. Letters were still a viable option to communicate with someone. However, the mail was a lot slower than sending a telegram. In order to destroy messages sent by mail, the receiver would have to burn or rip up the letter. Even though it took longer, there was an advantage to sending letters. If you send a letter to someone, you have a better chance of having privacy. It was less likely that your message would be read by anyone besides the person you were sending it to. 

Today, one of the only ways that a person could share the messages you send to someone on Snapchat is by screenshotting the messages. If someone screenshotted the messages you share, you would be notified by Snapchat. When Snapchat deletes your message, it is also deleted from its servers/databases. This gives each user a lot of privacy. The only way someone could share the messages you’ve sent them is if they give their phone to someone else. 

Snapchat helped revolutionize the way that humans communicate with each other by bringing users a new level of privacy. Users do not have to do much to get rid of their messages, which is a lot more convenient than having to burn or discard letters.  

Works Cited 

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