WhatsApp Launches ‘View Once’ Disappearing Photos and Videos
WhatsApp is rolling out its “View Once” feature today, which deletes photos or videos from your chat after they’ve been opened by the recipient. When sending a photo or video, you can make it view once by tapping the “1” button to the left of the send button. According to WaBetaInfo, the feature has been in beta for about a month.
After the recipient opens it, it’ll be deleted. The recipient will be able to see that it’s a disappearing photo, so it’s still the type of thing you’d only want to use for people you trust to not take a screenshot. In June, Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that the feature would be coming, though details about when it would release were scarce.
The company notes that the new feature could be helpful for an array of needs that definitely aren’t sending nudes, like sharing a photo of some clothes you tried on or giving someone your Wi-Fi password. In the fine print, the company would like to remind you that just because the photos or video will vanish, that doesn’t prevent someone from taking a screenshot (and you won’t know if they do).
Facebook says the new feature is a step to give users “even more control over their privacy,” something Mark Zuckerberg has been saying since he first declared a new “privacy-focused vision” for the company back in 2019. Facebook has made a few gestures toward letting people wrest control of their online privacy since then, streamlining audience controls on its core app and enabling disappearing messages in WhatsApp.
The company has also been talking a big game about bringing end-to-end encryption to its full stable of messaging services, which it plans to make interoperable in the future. WhatsApp enabled end-to-end encryption by default back in 2016, but for Messenger and Instagram, the hallmark privacy measure could still be years out.
WhatsApp has been testing the feature since at least September 2020 to let users make their photos and videos disappear from the app once it is viewed by the recipients. It also entered the beta testing phase for both Android and iOS devices in late June. The Facebook-owned app also brought it to WhatsApp Web for some users last month.
As an example of how the feature could be used, WhatsApp uses the example of sending a photo of sensitive information, like a Wi-Fi password. Of course, there are perhaps other less wholesome uses for this kind of feature. But either way, it’s useful to have an option between the app’s disappearing messages, which currently only go away after a week, and your chat’s permanent record.