Tech & Work

DSTRUX app gives users control over the permanence of the internet

Conventional wisdom says that everything on the internet is public and permanent. DSTRUX aims to change that.

dstrux.jpg
Image: DSTRUX

Regret and the internet are frequent bedfellows.

That's one of the chief motivations behind the creation of DSTRUX, a privacy app that gives users control over what they post on the internet through the power of files that self-destruct on command.

"I just felt that the timing was right and it was a good opportunity to give people the option to address that word — regret, and that's really where our target is," said CEO and founder Nathan Hecht.

From inside the app, users can select what they want to share — anything from pdfs, Excel files, to pngs, and where they want to share it. What recipients view is actually a stream, so they can't download it to their hard drives. The stream is in HD, though, as not to sacrifice quality.

DSTRUX also guards against screen captures. The app gives users the option of blurring out portions of the file. Running the mouse or a finger over the screen will reveal sections. So, even if someone takes a screen cap, it won't be of the entire document.

If a recipient tries to take a screenshot, the app kicks them out of the file.

As far as posting on social media, private messages or to the newsfeed, friends or connections will see an image that looks like a person's face with glasses that says "I've shared a DSTRUX with you." They can click the link and look at the image in the viewer.

Another feature DSTRUX offers is allowing users to specify the length of time the file is available, whether it's 10 seconds or 30 days.

Hecht said they generally see three uses cases. The first is ordinary people sharing with friends, colleagues, or family. It could be personal photos, family photos, party photos — anything they perhaps don't want out there forever.

The second use case is more personal items. For example, users who are dating someone.

"You're not sure if it's a long term relationship and you're not sure if you want them to have these things forever and use them against you," Hecht said. "So you can share stuff with them, but why should they keep it? It's not theirs. It's yours.

The third use case is businesses, particularly small businesses or entrepreneurs who might be sharing their intellectual property, like slide decks; or photographers and designers who want to share what they've made, but want more control over it.

Furthering the idea of control, Hecht also said that users' content leaves no digital footprint on DSTRUX servers.

"When you share something on Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, or wherever it may be, every single thing share, regardless of what it is, that goes onto their servers, and it stays on their servers," Hecht said. Those things run through algorithms — the engines of their marketing machine, he said, and then spit out those targeted ads.

Hecht finds it intrusive, and a perfect example of one of the biggest challenges he said they've faced — the idea that people have "submitted to the permanence of the web." They're used to the risks, so it can be an extra step to get them to consider that they can control what they post and even make those things go away. He said, though, that once people try it out they take to the idea fairly quickly.

The other challenge is dealing with items like streaming, encryption, and other complex aspects of tech. And as a part of that, there's the neverending challenge of staying in front of the ways people might try and get around an app like DSTRUX.

"It's the number one thing every single day. When we come into work, that's what we think about — people breaking in, people proving you wrong, people hacking it," he said.

It keeps them on their toes because there's one thing that's not changing.

"Every single one of us has something that we want to share, but we maybe don't want it to be out there forever," he said.

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      About Erin Carson

      Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

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