Self-destructing text messages: HR friend or foe?

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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? Blair Scotland, Principal at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, advised HR to keep a wide berth from the technology.

“If an employer said to me ‘oh there’s this app should we be using I’d be saying absolutely not,” he told HRM. “You’re better to have things on the record that you can [use] for later [if an employment situation arises] and that includes when people text in to say that their sick, or the odd time people text to quit a job. You want that stuff in a recorded format you can reproduce later on using applications that don’t allow you to capture it  could be quite problematic.”

Scotland said he could see the app being used for nefarious dealings or by colleagues having a covert relationship and recommended employers put in place policies that such apps cannot be downloaded onto work cell phones.

“All sorts of dodgy things could be going on including secret deals and unlawful activity. It could be used for anything. As an employer I think you would want to say to people ‘no we don’t want a bar of using that. We want transparency, we want the ability to track and record’,” he said.

Simpson Grierson senior associate, Simon Lapthorne, added that a conversation which is purportedly without prejudice, or off the record, can still be admissible in court and parties could be required to give evidence of the communications that took place.

Do you think there is a place in the workplace for such technology?
  • Waddy on 3/06/2014 12:54:41 p.m.

    Now there is a typical HR / Lawyer response based on the belief that people are just plain naughty (and you may well be right).

    Problem is that they can do all of the things you get all concerned about them using a text for on your work phone.

    But also what about Deaf who use text as a primary means of communication? Should they be compelled to "leave footprints in the sand" (Text records) because they cannot use the phone to talk like most of us?

    Now comes the "oh but we could make exceptions" statement but why should we? Disabled people want to be treated the same (look at organisms in the blood that could cause harm bit of the human rights act which justifiably requires us to treat all people as though they did have) so that one does not fly.

    As an employer we want transparency .... tui add. How many employers have little tete a tete's in back rooms plotting how to get rid of someone that they no longer want to hire, that when it turns bad deny that these conversations even took place using an app called selective memory which works across all platforms.

    Or what about the famous legal privilege, but that one only works on industry approved platforms? Surely if we really wanted transparency we would do away with these as well by saying "all sorts of dodgy things could be going on including secret deals and unlawful activity. It could be used for anything. As a person I think you would want to say to people ‘no we don’t want a bar of using that. We want transparency, we want the ability to track and record’" but who cares

    What we are saying to people if we say do not use this app, is that we don't really trust you but you have to trust us so we can keep having secret meetings and legal privilege but that is Ok because we are "better than you".

    I just bet when Alexander Bell tried to get people to install business phones people said .... (yes you have worked it out :-) .........

    So my thoughts are that those people who might actually be naughty probably already are and you have just not found out yet so let them go and install it if it stokes their fires, sooner or later they will offer themselves up for sacrifice to you in some way or another and you can move them on without having to troll through their text messages.

    Cheers

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