WhatsApp could be working on a privacy feature it should have had years ago

WhatsApp Lifestyle
(Image credit: Chris Wedel / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • WhatsApp is apparently developing a view-once option for text messages on the platform.
  • The feature will remove the content of a message as soon as it is viewed by the recipient.
  • Users will presumably be unable to copy or take a screenshot of view-once messages.

With ephemeral messages, WhatsApp already provides a way to automatically remove the content of a message for everyone in a chat, but the service could be taking things a step further. It is reportedly working on a view-once messaging option.

According to WABetaInfo (opens in new tab), WhatsApp is developing a feature that will immediately delete a text message after it is viewed by the recipient. The feature has been spotted on WhatsApp beta 2.22.25.20 for Android.

The potential feature comes in handy if you want to remove a message from somebody else's device to prevent it from being shared with others. This means recipients won't be able to copy or forward a view-once message, just like with images and videos. In addition, you won't be able to take a screenshot of this type of message.

WhatsApp already offers this function for photos and videos, so its arrival for text messages is a bit late. Some of the best messaging apps like Snapchat have long had this capability, so it makes sense for WhatsApp to do the same, even if it makes the service appear like it's playing catch-up with its rivals.

In addition to view-once messages, WhatsApp has been offering ephemeral messages for quite some time. It is available for both individual and group chats. It does, however, give recipients enough time to copy or screenshot a text message because, depending on your preferences, a message will disappear after 24 hours to 90 days.

With the upcoming feature, your messages will vanish immediately after the recipient views them. This will give you peace of mind that sensitive texts won't be seen by the unintended people.

That said, it's not entirely foolproof. Others may still photograph your message using other means, but it should be sufficient in most cases.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.