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Whatsapp now allows users set chats to disappear by default

Whatsapp, a Meta-owned social media messaging platform, revealed on the 6th of December 2021 that it is enhancing its disappearing messages feature. The temporary feature allows users to configure chat texts to be deleted automatically after a certain period. WhatsApp claims users may now turn on disappearing messages for all-new one-on-one chats, ensuring that all future messages are immediately removed from the service, all to widen its options for what an executive termed as the ‘next privacy standard’.

As WhatsApp works to expand its offering, transience appears to be a key focus. “Privacy has always been at the heart of WhatsApp. “We introduced end-to-end encryption and made it the default setting long before it became a standard in messaging,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“We see ephemerality as a new emerging messaging standard,” he said. “Not all messages need to be around forever,” he adds. Before this release, users had to enable ephemerality for each new chat with another person explicitly. WhatsApp now offers users the option of having their messages disappear after 24 hours or 90 days, in addition to the seven-day term it first announced last year.

“Ephemerality allows you to have more open and honest conversations,” said Zafir Khan, WhatsApp’s Head of Consumer Product, in an interview with the press. He added that having the option to put ephemerality on all new messages by default should help users avoid unpleasant situations with their friends and that the WhatsApp team listened to user feedback when building these new features.

Turning on the disappearing messages feature by default will not disrupt existing chats, according to WhatsApp. When you start a new one-on-one chat, you’ll notice that the disappearing messages feature is enabled, along with a remark saying it’s enabled by default (so your contacts don’t think it’s personal). You can also disable the setting for individual chats.

Although the new default setting does not affect group chats, WhatsApp says it has added a new option to enable the disappearing messages function when creating groups. According to WhatsApp, the new features are now available on all platforms, and the WhatsApp FAQ contains instructions on how to use them.

To be honest, the way disappearing texts are designed isn’t infallible. Users can still navigate the disappearing protocol by forwarding messages or capturing screenshots. Still, Khan believes it’s more of a non-tech issue: if the person you’re sending messages to doesn’t want to comply with your request, there’s nothing you can do but stop talking with them.

Whatsapp announced the ‘View Once’ disappearing pictures feature in August 2021, which operates similarly to Instagram’s expiring media feature. When you use this function to transmit a photo, it will vanish once the recipient opens it and exits the conversation. Users can’t forward, save, star, or share photographs or videos sent or received with the View Once media function in the chat app. If a receiver has read receipts switched on, it can only see if they’ve accessed a View Once photo or video.

The photo or video will be removed from the conversation if users do not open it within 14 days of receiving it. However, if the message was unread at the time of backup, the ‘View once media’ may be restored from the backup. If the media has already been opened, it will not be included in the backup and cannot be restored.

WhatsApp isn’t the first social media site to use the disappearing message and image feature. Other apps, such as Snapchat, have set up their servers to delete all Snaps once all recipients have seen them. Snapchat’s servers are set to delete any Snaps that have not been opened after 30 days. It’s also set up to delete unopened Snaps sent to a Group Chat after 24 hours if they’re not opened.

Telegram Messenger places a premium on security and ease of use. It allows users to send and receive messages with expiration dates as part of that focus. Users must first start a new Secret Mode chat to use this function. All messages sent and received in this chat are encrypted end-to-end, and users can set messages to self-destruct, with recipients unable to pass messages to other contacts.

Confide is a social media platform that allows users to send and receive self-destructive messages. It has features such as end-to-end encryption and the ability to exchange various media types (including text, photos, videos, documents, and voice messages). Confide goes so far as to prevent screenshots from being taken while the app is open and only displays one line of a message at a time – even if someone took a picture of the screen with a separate camera, each picture would only show a portion of the message.

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