Disappearing WhatsApp messaging rolls out on iOS beta

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WhatsApp-dark-mode
It's in beta testing now!
Photo: WhatsApp/Cult of Mac

The ability to send or receive a WhatsApp photo or video message that automatically disappears after one viewing is rolling out to iOS beta users of the messaging app, just as it did in late June to Android beta users.

As reported by WABetaInfo, WhatsApp released a “View Once” feature for iOS beta users on Friday. Selecting it allows users to send photo and video messages that will disappear from chats, for both the sender and receiver, after one viewing. Either party can activate it.

It looks similar to functionality on Instagram and Facebook Messenger, which followed that of the originator of disappearing media, Snapchat. As Facebook owns both Instagram and WhatsApp, the arrival of similar features across platforms is no surprise.

How this privacy feature works

If you’re a WhatsApp iOS beta user, you may gain access to the feature before its as-yet-unannounced public release. Look for a pop-up explaining the feature next time you send a photo or video message. Reports say users will eventually see a blue-and-white “i” icon in the caption text box rather than a pop-up.

New messages automatically disappear from the sender’s device and then, once opened, from the recipient’s device. A text notification saying “Opened” appears, signifying the message was viewed (and deletion has occurred if View Once was selected). Users can find other information, such as message delivery time, in Message Info.

But it’s not necessarily perfect privacy

Ensuring content you send automatically disappears may help with privacy to some extent, but the app isn’t designed to be iron-clad.

“For more privacy, your photo or video will disappear from the chat after the recipient opens it once,” the app’s message announcing the feature says. “Remember, people can always take screenshots.”

So, even when View Once is selected, the app will not prevent recipients from taking screenshots of sent content. And WhatsApp will not notify users of any screenshots taken.

As noted by users of the Android version, text in reply to a disappearing message could remain in the chat after a week. And messages forwarded to a conversation where the feature is turned off will not disappear. As mentioned, either sender or recipient can turn the feature on or off in one-to-one chats. In group chats, admins control it.