Technology: Want to retract your BBM message? Yes!

Apr 05, 2016, 08:26 IST | Hassan M Kamal

You needn’t pay to retract messages on BBM as the messenger app has made its premium service available for free across platforms

If you are a BBM fan, no longer will you have to pay to retract a wrong message or picture sent into a group chat. Blackberry Messenger is offering its users, the ability to retract sent messages and pictures for free via a new update released on March 31.

Also read: Now you can delete, send timed messages on BBM

The company had launched message retraction services way back in 2014, but until recently, it was limited to individual messages and available only at a monthly subscription. The new updates allow users to retract group messages, pictures as well as entire chats and without paying any subscription fees.

Users can also control how long contacts can view messages and pictures that have been shared, or communicate their location for only as long as they want to use a timer built right into the app, the company said in a statement released, today.

Is it good?
Till today, there are no commercial messaging services be it Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Viber, FB Chat or Twitter direct messages, that allow users to retract their messages once sent (except Snapchat). So, this new feature in BBM gives users greater control over their messages. Previously, BBM users could retract only single messages, but since December, BBM allows retraction of an entire chat as well as pictures even in groups (up to 200 users).

How much does it cost
It’s completely free now. Till last month, users could time and retract only three messages for free. For additional retraction or sending timed messages, users were required to buy a Timed and Retracted Messages subscription available for $0.99 a month. If you had subscribed for the service, you will have to either un-subscribe (on Android) or do not renew at all.

Who is it for?
Anyone who is afraid of (or used to) saying wrong things at wrong platforms. On a serious note, its a good tool for NGOs, social activists, journalists and whistle blowers whose jobs demand secrecy and can use this feature to maintain their privacy and to interact with their sources and vice versa without having to worry about divulging their identity.

Is it 100% private and secure?
We can’t prove that BBM is 100% private and secure, and will know more only after privacy promoters release their verdict on the feature.

Side effects
Since we live in an information-frenzied society, and if we look at recent incidents (for example: Kanhaiya Kumar fake video incident), it will become easier for miscreants to spread propaganda and use the account for illegal activities.

Try these for secure texting

There aren’t many apps that offer retraction (apart from Snapchat where conversations are limited to visuals) or timed destruction of messages, if you are looking for more secure platforms to communicate with your sources, here are a few private messenger apps used by human rights activists and journalists across the world.

SIGNALSignal: A free and open-source software. You can use it to make end-to-end encrypted phone calls and text messages from your regular mobile phone. Both parties must use Signal. Requires working phone number. It can be set to auto delete messages by enabling message trimming (minimum one) under Chats and Media in settings.
Available On:  Android and iOS

Ostel: This online service allows you to make encrypted phone calls without the need for a phone number. It integrates with apps like CSip Simple (for Android), Acrobits (for iPhone), Jitsi (Mac, Windows and Linux), Private GSM (Blackberry). You can use your Ostel account on any of these services to make end-end-encryption calls.

LinPhone: An open source Voice Over IP phone (or SIP phone) that makes possible to communicate freely with people over the Internet, with voice, video, and text messaging. Works with Ostel account too.
Available On: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Mac and Linux

ChatSecure: Part of the Guardian Project, ChatSecure helps you send encrypted messages across platforms. Though it requires you understand a little bit more about various chat platforms available, the best thing about ChatSecure is that it’s fully interoperable with other clients that support OTR (off the record) and XMPP messaging platforms such as Xabber, Adium, Jitsi, Zom, Pidgin, and more. The makers of the Guardian Project also helped build apps like Pixelknot: Hidden messages, CameraV and StoryMaker.
Available On: Android and iOS devices

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