My framing for message retention:

  1. A communication is distributed property. (It's my data and your data at the same time.)
  2. My data, my rules. (Your data, your rules.)
  3. Retention is non-binary. (There are degrees of accessibility and modes of retention.)

I like real-world analogies.

When I send you a paper letter, I choose whether to keep a copy, and you choose whether to keep the copy you receive. Together we agree how confidential it is, whether we should share it or publish it or destroy it. In light of that agreement I decide where to keep my copy, perhaps in my office, or pinned to my front door where any passer-by can read it, or in a vault that will only be unlocked once I die. If we publish it, we accept there's a public copy out of our direct control but still subject to laws and our stated wishes.

Any electronic system should give me and you those options, no matter how it's structured internally, if it claims to be serving us well.

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