Legal Technology

Want to unsend that email? Two Harvard law students offer a way to do it


Ever wished you could unsend an email? It’s now possible, and text of an email that’s already been sent can even be edited under some circumstances.

Two Harvard Law School students have launched a free Pluto Mail service, presently in a beta stage, that allows users to unsend email. The service also allows an email’s text to be automatically deleted after a set expiration date, reports Robert Ambrogi’s Law Sites. If the email hasn’t yet been opened, it is also possible to change the text of an email that has already been sent.

“I don’t think anyone has done this before the way we have done it,” David S. Gobaud told the Harvard Crimson. “It lets you keep using your same email address, your same email client, and the receivers do not have to be using the service.”

He and fellow law student Lindsay Lin created the service with help from the Harvard Innovation Lab and Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project.

Their service works by sending an image of the message rather than traditional email text, which presumably can then be replaced with another image, writes Ambrogi. His article provides detailed instructions for using the service and notes that there is a waiting list.

He also notes that the system may not be foolproof, since it likely is possible for recipients to keep a record of the email by retaining a copy of the image of the text. It is also unclear from the Pluto Mail website whether emails sent with Pluto will be accessible to people with screenreaders, given that the text is presented as an image.

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