In a victory for users, Slack has fixed its long-standing retention problems for free workspaces. Instead of holding onto your messages on its servers for as long as your workspace exists, Slack is now giving free workspace admins the option to automatically delete all messages older than 90 days. This basic ability to decide which information Slack should keep and which information it should delete should be available to all users, and we applaud Slack for making this change.
The new retention settings for free accounts were announced in a July blog post and are effective as of September 1st. Follow these steps from Slack to change retention in your own Slack workspaces, or share them with your workspace admin:
Since 2018, we have urged Slack to recognize its higher-risk users and take more steps to protect them. While Slack is intended for use in white-collar office environments, its free version has proven useful for abortion rights activists, get-out-the-vote phone banking organizers, unions, and other political organizing and activism activities.
Some might argue that the mismatch between enterprise tool design and wider use cases means Slack is simply the wrong tool for high-risk activists. But for many people, especially small and under-resourced organizations, Slack is the most viable option: it’s convenient, easy to use without extensive technical expertise, and already familiar to many.
Enterprise companies have a prerogative to charge more money for an advanced product, but best-practice privacy and security features should not be restricted to those who can afford to pay a premium. Slack’s decision to do the right thing and offer basic retention settings more widely is especially important because the people who cannot afford enterprise subscriptions are often the ones who need strong security and privacy protections the most.