Definition

ephemeral messaging

What is ephemeral messaging?

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. 

Ephemeral messaging in practice

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.

Ephemeral messages which "self-destruct" can be contrasted with SMS text messaging and iMessage, both of which require the recipient to manually delete messages from the device. 

This was last updated in October 2021

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