Now I know that there are (at least) two schools of thought about PMs:
- Those who believe that they are totally "out of bounds".
- Those who believe that a board Admin should have access to them.
Personally I believe that that the term "Private Message" is, within the scope of social media being misinterpreted. My interpretation is that in this context the term "private" means not public and not "confidential". Many other social media platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter etc) now refer to such messages as "Direct Messages" meaning that the message goes from one member to another without being displayed in public - it does not, necessarily, mean that it is not to be seen by anybody else.
One of my main concerns over the use of PMs is, in today's climate, that they are used for communicating illegally with other board members. How would a board owner feel if there was under age child sex grooming taking place on their board? How would a board owner feel if a terrorist plot was being planned via PMs on their board?
Extreme examples? Yes. Plausible examples? Yes.
Except in a few cases how well do we really know who are members are and what their motives are for joining the board?
I can accept that not all (or even any) Admins should have access to "Messages" but I do believe that Founders/Board Owners should have that access. In fact there is an argument that it is their responsibility to know what is being posted on their site and in some circumstances/countries could face criminal charges for allowing illegal activity.
There is the argument that PMs should be protected in case the database is compromised. My answer there is that if the database is compromised PMs would be the least of my worries and if there is a need to send "confidential" information via a board then there are more suitable methods of doing it.
You also have to bear in mind that virtually all Internet data is, or potentially is capable of, being monitored by various agencies around the world.
The problem with encryption on something like a phpBB board is that the software is Open Source so by definition the methodology being used is in the public domain which also means that anyone wanting to "break" the system has a head start.
As I said at the start I appreciate that other will have differing views and I respect that.