Ephemeral messaging is the mobile-to-mobile transmission of multimedia messages that automatically disappear from the recipient's screen after the message has been viewed. The word "ephemeral" describes something that only lasts for a short period of time.
While ephemeral messaging is reshaping the landscape of digital communication, it is also raising questions around data privacy, data permanence and data security. Snapchat is a well-known example of an ephemeral messaging application. Snapchat messages can only be viewed once -- and during the viewing period, the recipient must maintain contact with the device's touchscreen or the message, which is called a Snap, disappears. Snapchat became the subject of an U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation when it was alleged that Snapchat deceived consumers with promises about the ephemeral nature of messages sent through the service. The FTC has since ruled that Snapchat did not employ reasonable security measures to protect personal information from misuse and unauthorized disclosure.
Ephemeral messaging which "self-destruct" can be contrasted with SMS text messaging andiMessage, both of which require the recipient to physically delete messages from the device.