WhatsApp apparently wants to give users a bit more control over the photos and videos they share on the messaging app. The company recently unveiled a new feature to iOS and Android beta testers that allows them to send disappearing messages.
As reported in WABetaInfo, WhatsApp released the “View Once” feature for iOS users on Friday, shortly after it rolled it out for Android users in late June. The feature allows users to send photos and videos that will disappear from WhatsApp chats after they’re viewed once. It appears to be very similar to the feature offered on Instagram and Facebook Messenger, although Instagram allows senders to let recipients view the content once more before it disappears.
And, of course, all of these features build off the formula popularised by the original disappearing media network: Snapchat.
Notably, according to screenshots taken by WABetaInfo, the app will not prevent others from taking screenshots. The content will disappear in the sender’s chat and in the recipient’s chat if View Once is selected. Senders will be able to see whether their content has been viewed in the chat by watching out for an “Opened” message. For Android users, the feature was also available for group chats.
“For more privacy, your photo or video will disappear from the chat after the recipient opens it once,” the message announcing the feature in the app reads. “Remember, people can always take screenshots.”
The outlet reports that WhatsApp will not notify users if recipients have taken screenshots of their disappearing content. It explains that this is because there is no foolproof way of blocking users from taking screenshots and sustains that claiming to do so would offer users a false sense of security. Alas, who knows what people would send. Considering the stuff people send in messages even when they know others could take screenshots, this is probably accurate.
WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally confirmed this feature to WABetaInfo in early June, so it’s safe to say we’ll all be getting it soon. Zuckerberg also mentioned a “disappearing mode,” which would make all your messages in all chats disappear and make your WhatsApp experience “ephemeral,” in his words.
I mean, I guess some really private (or paranoid) people would dig disappearing mode, but as someone who refers back to WhatsApp messages to find friends’ addresses and other important info, it would cause me a mighty big problem. To each their own, though.