WhatsApp has launched new disappearing photos and videos, which can only ever be seen once.
The new feature, named “View Once”, will allow users to send files that then disappear from the chat as soon as they have been opened.
The company suggested that the feature will help free up space on phones and in conversations, but also that it was aimed at allowing people to share more privately.
It used the examples of a “photo of some new clothes you’re trying on at a store, a quick reaction to a moment in time, or something sensitive like a Wi-Fi password”.
Anything sent using the new feature will be marked with a “one-time” icon, WhatsApp said, and after it is opened it will include an “opened” indicator to make clear what happened in the chat.
The feature is rollingout to everyone starting this week, WhatsApp said. The app must be updated to the latest version to use it.
WhatsApp’s suport documents note that “encrypted media may be stored for a few weeks on WhatsApp’s servers after you’ve sent it”, in a support document.
It also says that users will still be able to report media sent with the view once tool to WhatsApp, if they believe it to be breaking the company’s rules. If that happens, WhatsApp will be able to see the photo or video.
WhatsApp has stressed that, as part of its general focus on privacy, it wants to move towards considering messages and conversations to be more temporary, rather than being collected forever.
“We do think a lot of people will choose these options, we do think it will become the norm,” he told The Independent in June. “Over time, obviously – we’re not there yet.
“But I think as this becomes easier, people realise the benefits of not keeping records of everything forever. Because it keeps their messages private, because it gives them extra security benefits, because it lets them speak freely.”