Ephemeral messaging isn’t foolproof yet
In the age of instant messaging, privacy is more important than ever, but what’s the right approach? End-to-end encryption is a big deal for keeping strangers from reading your stuff, while ephemeral messaging gives us the peace of mind that what we’re sending won’t be forwarded along beyond the intended recipient. WhatsApp is already one of the best encrypted messaging services around, with support for ephemeral content in the form of view-once pics and videos. Now a new beta build suggests you will soon be able to send view-once WhatsApp texts, as well.
WhatsApp offers a handful of ways to share ephemeral media — status updates, disappearing messages in chats, and view-once images or video. However, you still have to delete a text manually using the Delete for everyone option if you don’t want the text sticking around after the recipient has read it. Otherwise, if you rely on the disappearing messages feature, you’ll have to wait a whole 24 hours for the message to auto-delete.
While testing WhatsApp beta 126.96.36.199 for Android, WABetaInfo has uncovered evidence pointing to view-once text messaging being in development. When sending a view-once message, you’ll see the green send button appear with a small lock icon. Once a message expires, you’d have to ask the sender to resend the message to see it again. The usual protections WhatsApp offers view-once media should also be available for texts — no screenshots, forwarding, or copying the content.
That said, the view-once option is merely a deterrent — someone desperate enough could still take pictures of your disappearing media and texts with another device, for all you know. Even if view-once texts wouldn’t be foolproof, they should still be useful.
It’s not yet clear when this feature might officially roll out, but it is expected in a future update. Once available, you will be able to send texts, images, and videos which recipients can only view once.