After several months of numbness, during which WhatsApp has not launched any new important features while all the competitors were making great strides (Telegram in primis), for a few weeks it seems that the development team of the most used messaging app in the world has got back to work.
First came the opportunity to participate in group video calls at a later time, then the long-awaited folder of archived chats was finally launched, now it comes “View once“, That is the possibility of making photos and videos disappear into thin air as soon as the user who receives them has viewed them. This is an absolute novelty for WhatsApp, but not for the Facebook group: a practically identical function also exists on Direct, Instagram’s private chat. Here’s how it works, why it’s a privacy-friendly novelty and what we owe still be careful when we use it.
How it works View once
Thanks to this new function, already available in Italy for both the Android and iOS apps and for WhatsApp Web and Desktop, it is now possible to send a photo or video (loaded from the device memory or produced with the integrated camera) choosing that they disappear immediately after viewing.
After choosing the content to send, in fact, we can click / tap on the circular icon “1“, Which is exactly what is needed to activate theimmediate self-destruction photo or video. That’s all: the user who sends the content will not have to do anything else, nor will the person who receives it do anything.
Note that this feature is available for both 1 to 1 chats and groups.
Because it helps privacy
Media files sent with “View once” they will not be saved in the gallery or in the memory of the recipient’s phone, who will therefore not be able to see them again later. They can’t even be downloaded or forwarded and whoever sends them will know if they have been displayed (and therefore if they have disappeared) only if the recipient has the read receipt activated (the famous double blue check).
If the material will not be displayed within 14 days from dispatch, then, it will disappear anyway while the messages containing these photos or videos can be restored from a backup only if they have not yet been read.
What to watch out for
WhatsApp reminds its users that “View once” helps privacy, but with limits. First, whoever receives the message can still make one screenshot to save at least one track. Then it can too report its content to WhatsApp, in case of material that does not comply with the terms of service of the app.
In this case, the reported file will still be sent to WhatsApp, which will be able to view it without limits. Finally, the multimedia files will be saved on WhatsApp servers (albeit in encrypted form) for a few weeks even if they have already disappeared on the recipient’s phone.