Facebook-owned WhatsApp is taking another page from Snapchat and other apps with a new privacy feature in testing that lets you set a self-destruct timer for image attachments.
- Self-destructing images can be viewed once.
- These photos cannot be saved to the device.
- Screenshot detection is missing.
- WhatsApp could choose to kill the feature.
It works as advertised
According to WABeta Info, this feature works just as you’d expect.
When sending an image within a chat, you can set an optional self-destruct timer. Doing so will prompt the app to delete the image right after it has been viewed on the recipient’s device. This should stop most people from attempting to save vanishing images to their device.
WhatsApp is currently testing this with some users on the iPhone. There’s no word on when it could launch for everyone. WhatsApp could choose to nix the feature if the test disappoints.
There doesn’t seem to be a global setting to enable self-destructing images for all chats, someting that the Telegram app recently implemented. Although no screenshot-detection feature has been implemented yet, it sounds like WhatsApp is working on it. That one would alert the sender if the recipient has attempted to screenshot a self-destructing photo.
Vanishing images provide limited privacy
Many messaging and social apps offer vanishing media, an important feature at a time when these apps are invading our privacy. That being said, however, sounds like WhatsApp fans will soon gain the option to send private images that can be viewed only once.
WhatsApp is working on self-destructing photos in a future update for iOS and Android.
• Self-destructing photos cannot be exported from WhatsApp.
• WhatsApp didn’t implement a screenshot detection for self-destructing photos yet.
Same concept from Instagram Direct. ⏱ pic.twitter.com/LLsezVL2Hj
— WABetaInfo (@WABetaInfo) March 3, 2021
This may not be enough to stop people from capturing a screen recording. It definitely won’t be enough to prevent bad actors from using a secondary device with a camera to capture any self-destructing images displayed in WhatsApp on their primary device.
The feature may be crucial for Facebook’s plans to consolidate messaging services spread across its various apps into a single, iMessage-like service.
Recently, an Instagram prompt offered to merge Facebook Messenger chats with Instagram Direct. Doing so makes not only chats but other Messenger features available on Instagram Direct, like colorful chat bubbles, additional emoji reactions, swipe to reply and more.