Is It Possible to Defy the Laws of Email and Unsend Your Message?

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Is It Possible to Defy the Laws of Email and Unsend Your Message?

b2ap3_thumbnail_pluto_mail_400.jpgThere are some things in this world we can’t take back, and one of those things is what you say in an email. Anyone who has made a mistake, such as misspelling the recipient’s name, or saying something downright unsavory or condescending, wishes they could go back in time and save themselves the humiliation. Now, thanks to an upcoming initiative called Pluto Mail, the time machine might arrive a little early.

Harvard Law students David Gobaud and Lindsay Lin, creators of Pluto Mail, claim that they have found a solution to the common email-mistake problem that occasionally plagues office workers. Pluto Mail is a free web-based mail service that Entrepreneur magazine likens to Snapchat for email. It’s not your typical mail service; rather, it syncs with your current webmail provider, like Gmail, Outlook, or Apple mail, and operates on the sidelines. Its name is derived from the scientific community denouncing Pluto as a planet, and according to Lin, “if you have second thoughts about something you said, our service allows you [to] take it back.”

Thanks to Pluto Mail being a web application, it works with several different email clients, making it a very versatile service. What’s even better is that, unlike encryption services which require both parties to install them, Pluto works without the recipient using the service. With increased concern over NSA surveillance and data breaches plaguing the Internet, Gobaud claims that there is an increased desire to see the online world reflect the real world’s impermanence of information. We can take back words spoken in the real world, but in an online community (especially professional environments), who knows how long those words can haunt you for?


The reason why Pluto Mail is so similar to Snapshot is thanks to its ability to make emails “disappear.” Snapchat, the popular mind-numbing photo sharing app for most smartphones, allows its users to send pictures which expire after a certain amount of time, regardless of whether or not the picture was viewed. Pluto Mail, while having more options, operates in a similar fashion. You can set emails to disappear after several days have passed, or set them to vanish within seconds of receipt. This comes with a catch, though: the subject line remains in the recipient’s inbox, and when clicked on, the email displays a message stating that the email has expired.

Upon being deleted, the messages also disappear from the servers at Pluto Mail, meaning that the information is completely gone. This application could add a whole new level to information confidentiality in the business world. Businesses who deal with personal or sensitive information, like credit card numbers, health records, and more, now have a whole new way of keeping their information from falling into the hands of malicious entities. The application is still in its beta stage, but it is available here if you are interested in trying it out.
Is Pluto Mail something your business might find useful? Do you think it can help businesses avoid costly data breaches containing personal information? Let us know in the comments.