WhatsApp is taking a leaf out of Snapchat's original playbook, by adding a new disappearing photo and video option, which will see these visual elements auto-erase after they’ve been opened, providing another privacy option for users.
New feature alert!— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) August 3, 2021
You can now send photos and videos that disappear after they’ve been opened via View Once on WhatsApp, giving you more control over your chats privacy! pic.twitter.com/Ig5BWbX1Ow
Wow, right? Snapchat only did that in, what, 2011?
Mocking observations aside, the new process will provide another communications option within WhatsApp, which could be used for sharing private info like passwords and the like.
But really, it's going to be used for sending nudes. We all know it.
As explained by WhatsApp:
"As with all the personal messages you send on WhatsApp, View Once media is protected by end-to-end encryption so WhatsApp cannot see them. They will also be clearly marked with a new “one-time” icon."
WhatsApp has been developing the option for some time, with various examples of the function in testing being leaked online. And while it is very much like Snapchat's disappearing messages, there is one significant variance - WhatsApp users will not be notified if someone takes a screenshot or screen recording of the content.
WhatsApp has been under pressure of late over perceived changes in its approach to data privacy, and its links to parent company Facebook.
Many users deleted the app earlier in the year after WhatsApp announced that it would soon be sharing more user data with Facebook, with a view to improving its business tools. WhatsApp has since sought to provide more clarity on the change, in response to the backlash (for clarity, your personal messages are not impacted), but there is, seemingly, a lingering distrust of the app, and its future data-sharing plans.
In this respect, disappearing content could be seen as a way to win back some of that audience credibility, by enhancing its privacy tools, while it could also add a more fun, engaging way to share specific updates, and increase interaction in the app.
Functionally, it's not a major revelation, with several messaging apps providing similar capacity for some time, but it's another element to consider in WhatsApp, which is the most used messaging app in the world.
The new option is being rolled out to all users from this week - you can read more about how it works, and how your privacy is protected, here.