You might notice that this link doesn’t work. But it worked once – and just once – thanks to se.cret.ly, a new toy for privacy enthusiasts and would-be spies.
The site creates short links that, like the cassette tapes in Mission: Impossible, self-destruct after you’ve clicked them. Cool? Well, even cooler if you put on sunglasses and whistle the franchise’s theme song.
The site actually offers three services, all based on the idea of posting links and data that will self-destruct after being accessed one time. In addition to links, you can post one-click-only photos and, intriguingly, blocks of text.
The text-sharing service, which the site suggests could be used to send passwords that you don’t want to remain permanently in an email account, could prove to be of particular interest in an age of digital leaks and online hacktivism. It’s not clear exactly what uses it would be put to, but the idea could serve as an interesting counterbalance to text-sharing sites that, like Pastebin, have been seized on as a convenient way to share sensitive information very publicly.
Se.cret.ly, in contrast, wants to be the way to share sensitive information very privately.
The site was created by the mysterious Sam Bolgert, a current senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with experience in web and application development. Bolgert did not reply to repeated requests for comment, possibly because he is engaged in top-secret spy warfare, though we have no evidence to support that hypothesis (if he’s the only person working on the project, though, the site’s atrocious grammar and typography can probably be traced back to him.).
But in all seriousness, the site’s basic lack of documentation – and its creator’s apparent unresponsiveness – could be a cause for concern. If it turned out the site was actually storing data, intentionally or not, or if there was a way to recover data that had been shared, the service’s raison d’etre would be cast into jeopardy.
The site’s terse assurance to the contrary, somehow, is pale comfort at this time.
“Secretly is fast because our database is a lean, mean, query munching machine,” reads the site. Deleting data once its [sic] accessed keeps our service fast and our hosting costs down.”