Messaging Apps

Video credit: Messaging Apps – posted by The Digital Tattoo Project on Youtube



Messaging applications for smartphones have experienced an atmospheric rise in the last decade. In April 2013, a study found that the volume of messages sent by texting apps overtook messages sent by SMS. This trend has only continued: in 2022, WhatsApp reported having 2.4 billion users in 180 countries. Besides WhatsApp, the most popular apps include Snapchat, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. These applications send messages for no cost across a wifi or network connection. 

These messages are often casual in nature yet it is important to remember that messages sent with any platform can impact your digital identity. While the message might have been intended for one particular person, it can be easily shared across the internet heavily impacting the reputation of the original author. 

Sexting, or sharing sexually explicit images by text message, is an activity that many young adults underestimate in terms of its consequences. These images are usually sent with assumed confidence that the other person would never share them. However, relationships may change over time. Images shared in trust can be vindictively spread online or even hacked without the recipient’s knowledge. Sexting is a crime if the creators or recipients are under 18; child pornography charges might be laid even if no images were shared. 


Think before you ink

    • Your text message or photo is one click away from being forwarded to another person’s entire contact list and so on and so forth… Consider what you want to pass on. Practice constructing messages you do want everyone to see.
    • “Sexting becomes a legal issue when teens (under 18) are involved because any nude photos they may send of themselves would put the recipients in possession of child pornography” (Wikipedia). This includes apps like TikTok and Snapchat.
    • Remember that information lasts forever on the internet. Even if you are using the disappearing chat function on messaging apps, your words can still be screenshot by the recipient and stored as images. 
    • You are probably already a pro at networking – at least in a casual, social way. As you move forward in your academic and professional lives, it is a good idea to think about how you can hone these skills for a different audience and purpose.



The Digital Tattoo Project encourages critical discussion on topics surrounding digital citizenship and online identity. There are no correct answers and every person will view these topics from a different perspective. Be sure to complete the previous sections before answering the questions.

  • What third party providers are  you trusting with your information?
  • Do you send information using messaging apps that you would like to keep confidential?

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