WhatsApp launches its ‘View Once’ disappearing photos and videos

By: News Desk      Published: 08:51 AM, 4 Aug, 2021
WhatsApp launches its ‘View Once’ disappearing photos and videos
File photo.

WhatsApp is set to roll out its “View Once” feature today, which deletes photos or videos from your chat after they’ve been opened by the recipient.

When sending a photo or video, you can make it view once by tapping the “1” button to the left of the send button.

After the recipient opens it, it’ll be deleted. The recipient will be able to see that it’s a disappearing photo, so it’s still the type of thing you’d only want to use for people you trust to not take a screenshot.

In June, Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that the feature would be coming, though details about when it would release were scarce. According to WaBetaInfo, the feature has been in beta for about a month. 

As an example of how the feature could be used, WhatsApp uses the example of sending a photo of sensitive information, like a Wi-Fi password. Of course, there are perhaps other less wholesome uses for this kind of feature. But either way, it’s useful to have an option between the app’s disappearing messages, which currently only go away after a week, and your chat’s permanent record.

The Snapchat-like feature is similar to Instagram and Messenger’s disappearing photo features. When snapping a picture in WhatsApp, users can select the timer icon to set the photo to “view once.” Unlike regular photo or video messages, the “view once” images won’t preview in the chat and can’t be downloaded to your device.

Facebook is billing the feature as one for “private moments” or for sending potentially sensitive information like Wi-Fi passwords. As always, people should be wary of just how “private” these kinds of messages really are.

In a help article, the company notes that the recipient can still take a screenshot or record their screen while opening a “view once” photo and, unlike Snapchat, WhatsApp won’t let the sender know when a screenshot has been taken. The company also points out that “view once” photos that are reported will be made visible to WhatsApp.

Though this feature could provide a greater sense of privacy for more-sensitive content, WhatsApp notes you should send View Once photos or videos only to people you trust, since it's possible for someone to take a screenshot or to screen record content. (You won't get a notification if they do.) It's also possible for them to take a photo or video of media with another device.