According to a court document reviewed by Engadget, the Federal Trade Commission accused Amazon of using Signal’s disappearing message feature to conceal communications as part of its antitrust lawsuit against the company. The FTC says the retailer continued to automatically delete its communications even after the agency notified it it was under investigation and asked to preserve them. Founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos and current CEO Andy Jassy are among the defendants.

“For years, Amazon’s top executives, including founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos, have been debating[ed] sensitive business matters, including antitrust, through Signal’s encrypted messaging app instead of email,” the FTC wrote in the full document, acquired by (owned by Bezos) The Washington Post. “These executives turned on Signal’s ‘disappearing message’ feature, which irretrievably destroys messages even after Amazon was notified that plaintiffs were investigating its conduct.”

The FTC wants a federal judge to compel Amazon to provide documents related to data processing. The government agency says the retailer did not disclose its use of Signal until March 2022, before Wall Street Journal article emphasizing secret practice.

“Although the contents of deleted messages are impossible to recover, the app shows when a user turns the disappearing messages feature on, off, or changes the deletion timer, leaving navigational crumbs showing that Amazon executives’ deletions were widespread,” it said. says the document. “The messages, which were not deleted, make it clear that Amazon executives used Signal to talk about business issues related to competition.”

The problem appears to be an increasingly common business practice in Silicon Valley. Last year, the Justice Department accused Google of routinely destroying its internal chat histories, which it was required to keep under federal law. Also, before Elon Musk bought Twitter and changed its name to X, the company asked a judge to sanction the Tesla founder for using Signal’s auto-delete to keep messages sent through the app.

Besides Bezos and Jassi, The Washington Post reports that the full document names general counsel David Zapolsky, former Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke and former CEO of Worldwide Operations Dave Clark as involved in the practice.