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A self-destructing email is a kind of electronic mail or message that disappears or is automatically deleted after a specific time period set by the email's sender or after it has been read. This type of email has been available for years but has gained popularity only recently owing to the ineffectiveness of earlier versions. Some email providers have started to offer this service again, and there are now various applications that are superior in performance, in addition to security and privacy enhancements.
A self-destructing email or message works in different ways, depending on the provider of the service. Some messages are only readable for a set amount of time; others have expiry dates and will be automatically deleted whether they have been read or not, and there are also retractable ones, which can be destroyed even before the recipient is able to read the message. There are a number of online sites that provide this kind of email service.
Most services pertaining to self-destructing emails are actually not like the traditional email services such as those provided by Yahoo and Google, but are specialized messaging services utilizing different technologies. A typical process in this type of service involves instructing the email recipient to visit an encrypted website where the message is held and can be viewed for a specified amount of time. A password or decryption key is needed in order to gain access to the email's contents. If the time limit has been reached, the sender can delete or take down the content from the encrypted website.