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Sorry, no app can save you from your own drunk texts

Better idea: Just get so wasted you can't type at all.


Elijah Watson

Internet Culture

Posted on Apr 2, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 12:14 am CDT

The other day I discovered Privates!, a messaging app that’s supposed to “protect your texts, protect your videos and protect your pictures from being screenshotted.” In other words, it’s the perfect fix for sending late-night confessions and unsolicited (or poorly lit) nudes to an old paramour, only to apologize for being the dumbass you are the following day.

We’ve seen these apps time and time again—Ansa, On Second Thought, SessMe, Strings—the list goes on and on. The similar problem with all of them? Both the recipient and sender need to be users, which can be problematic if, you know, only one of them is.

Still, I saw hope in Privates! and decided to give it a shot. But, well, like most similar apps, it’s not that efficient. As much as they claim to be screenshot-resistant, overstating their ability to control when a message disappears, there’s always a way to override it all.

Which is what I learned when using Privates! with an ex of mine. Part tech review, part making myself look like a dipshit so you all don’t have to (or do, but trust me, the best solution to drunk texting is to just not drunk text), here’s the sum of what I learned using Privates!

First, I got drunk. Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck is a blessing and curse.

Elijah Watson

Then I proceeded to download the app.


Already Privates! fails, as both you and your ex need to have the app (granted, she did already on the app, which was surprising, but whatever). I ignored this snag, in hopes that the app would get better.

It didn’t.

Like every other anti-drunk-texting-app, Privates! has a feature where you can set a message to be visible for a certain amount of time. There’s Mild, Wild, and Insane, increasingly lengthy (and dangerous) viewing periods.


Once you send the message you can choose to recall it, but only if it hasn’t already been opened by the recipient. So if they’re anxiously waiting by the phone for your message, you might mess up.

But the app becomes interesting when the recipient sends a message back. Before you can even open it, the app has to register your face; once that’s done, you’re led to another screen where you have to constantly press a circle labeled “TAP” to unveil the message. 

The idea is that by having to tap this circle, you won’t be able to set your fingers up to screenshot a message.


Well, they messed up on that.


Although the message automatically deletes when the app detects you trying to screenshot, if you time it just right, you can still to get it. (The app also counts how many times you attempt a screenshot but, like, whatever). It is, however, hard to do, especially when you only have five to 10 seconds to screenshot the message. In that regard, Privates! is kind of on point.


I will admit that the recall feature is pretty cool.


You just better hope you recall it before they open it (and that they don’t figure out a way of screenshotting what you sent).


Overall, Privates! isn’t that great, but it does make it a little challenging to successfully screenshot incoming messages. But again—and I cannot say this enough—the only way to avoid making a fool of yourself is to be a little more cautious in what you text under the influence. If you’re desperate, hurling your phone into a large body of water may also do the trick.

And yes: My ex curved my ass.

Photo via Matteo Paciotti/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Apr 2, 2016, 11:00 am CDT