Google launched its new Allo texting app Wednesday, and it’s pretty fun. You can use it to get information from a bot, send your friends doodles, mess with font sizes — all that good stuff.
But stop yourself before sending anything that might be incriminating. (Not a bad rule of thumb on the internet.) By default, Allo will store your messages on Google’s servers, a number of outlets reported Wednesday, which means they can be accessed by the tech corporation — and theoretically turned over to law enforcement should the need arise.
That may not be altogether surprising, but it flies against Google’s original Allo announcement in May, which promised “transient” messages that wouldn’t be permanently stored.
The company’s reasoning is pretty straightforward.
“We’ve given users transparency and control over their data in Google Allo. And our approach is simple — your chat history is saved for you until you choose to delete it,” a Google spokesperson told Mashable in a statement.
Privacy advocates maintain that texting services should use end-to-end encryption to make sure no one other than you and your intended recipient can read messages. Google Allo has this type of encryption built in, but it requires a couple of additional steps.
First, delete any messages you’d rather keep private
If you’ve already been using Allo and you’re suddenly worried about Google’s ability to access your messages, don’t fret. Hold your finger on any messages (or conversations) you’re nervous about, then tap the trash can icon on the upper-right to delete them. Recipients will have to do the same to totally scrub the messages from Google’s servers.
Use Incognito Mode
Tap the icon to start a new conversation and then select “Incognito Mode.” This will enable end-to-end encryption — again meaning that only you and your message’s recipient will ever be able to see the text. The downside is that Allo’s Incognito Mode eschews all of the AI features that make the app standout, but you’ll still be able to use stickers and what not.
You can also set a time for your message to self-destruct — if you want, they can auto-delete one minute after your friend reads them. Neat!