The setting where WhatsApp users could set an expiry date for sent messages has just been “dismantled” with a new view-once option, for massages that you read and then disappear after they’re read, with no option to keep them.
WhatsApp has been offering ephemeral messages functionality for some time now, whereby users of the platform can send messages with a pre-set expiration date that automatically disappear some time after they are read (e.g. after 24 hours, 30 or 90 days). But what would it be like to be able to send someone messages on WhatsApp that can only be read once, without the ability to take screenshots or create duplicates afterwards.
Apparently the view-once functionality will offer exactly that, assuming of course that message recipients don’t resort to really “clever” means like getting pictures of the phone screen using a device that isn’t targeted by the restrictions.
According to Meta, the new WtatsApp functionality will remove all obstacles to modern technology, ensuring that messages received over an encrypted connection can only be read by the person to whom they are addressed, without the possibility of anyone else intercepting the conversation history. While the promised ideal is more at the level of promise, it’s worth appreciating the way Meta tacitly disavows any practices related to archiving conversations, announcing features that the first modus operandi implies total anonymity on the part of Mark Zuckerberg’s company.