There’s an intrigue and, dare we say, lasciviousness to self-destructing messages and photos, as has been best represented by Snapchat. Others have been experimenting with the ephemeral trend as well – so what about the idea of temporary tweets? Enter new third party Twitter app, Efemr.
All it takes is a click of the “Connect” Twitter button and you’re on your way to creating self-destructing tweets. The app gives you a choice of how many minutes or hours you’d like a tweet to stay alive for. Just append your tweet with a hashtag and the time. So #5m means you’d want the tweet deleted after five minutes. #5h means that you’d like your tweet deleted after five hours – and so on.
It’s definitely a fun idea: Tweet something you might be on the fringe about – a tweet you could possibly regret a few minutes, hours, or days from now – and there’s little worry about the tweet from getting out there since Efemr would delete it according to the limits you set.
Unfortunately, ephemeral apps aren’t fool-proof, as has been proven time and time again. There are plenty of ways for a witness to record a self-destructing Snapchat or Poke or tweet before it’s gone.
We checked out the app for ourselves – and it was rather unreliable. Seven minutes in, and my supposedly self-destructing tweet was still alive and kicking. 20 minutes in, same story.
While using the app, I saw some users tweets disappear within the listed time. As for mine, it’s still here at the time of this writing. A quick search revealed other users using the #5m hashtag. Not surprisingly it looks like there are plenty of other users whose tweet is stuck in limbo as well.
What ended up happening was that my tweet disappeared and popped up on a simplified dashboard in Efemr.com as one of the deleted posts that it’s responsible for. The problem is that it took 25 minutes for it to disappear.
A second way to completely destroy any chance of the tweet disappearing forever is a simple retweet. Efemr has absolutely no control over deleting someone else’s action of retweeting your questionable tweet. Even if you’ve asked Efemr to delete your post in one hour, if it was retweeted or even favorited you’re out of luck, and it will live on somewhere. To the Twitter users who actually have followers that pay attention to them – celebrities, public figures – Efemr clearly isn’t for you.
Then there’s the ever-present option of the screenshot that takes away from the whole idea. Not to mention the fact that Twitter’s real-time stream buries tweets incredibly quickly; for those of us without a rapt Twitter audience, plenty of questionable tweets can easily go without being seen by all that many caring eyes.