Last year, WhatsApp released a new privacy feature called “View Once” that allowed users to send photos and videos that would auto-delete after the recipient received them. Not to be confused with ephemeral messages, View Once removes the content immediately, preventing the recipient from saving a photo or video. WhatsApp will now expand the View Once feature to also support text messages, which is a feature that’s already available on other platforms.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular chat apps to feature end-to-end encryption. That means no one other than the parties involved in a chat can read or intercept the messages. It’s an important privacy feature to have on a chat app.
On top of that, people can also send ephemeral texts, which vanish after a specified amount of time. But the recipients of those messages can save screenshots of the content that should auto-destroy itself, and that can be a problem.
View Once builds on that, allowing users to send sensitive content on WhatsApp, knowing that the other party can’t save or forward it. Currently, WhatsApp supports View Once only for photos and videos. Once the recipient has viewed the media, it disappears from the chat.
The only theoretical way of copying that content is using a secondary device to record a video of the first screen. That is, if you know you’re about to see View Once content.
But View Once should also support text messages, as it would add the same protection to sensitive content shared via text. WhatsApp is apparently aware of that, and it’s texting a “View Once text” feature on Android.
According to well-known WhatsApp secrets leaker WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is already testing View Once for text messages on Android. The Meta (Facebook) subsidiary released another beta version of its Android app, which testers can use right now. That’s version 126.96.36.199, which contains support for View Once text messages.
WABetaInfo showed the screenshot above that reveals the interface changes for the View Once text feature. The send button has a lock symbol that indicates you’re about to send a View Once text.
As soon as the recipient receives the message and reads it, the text will disappear from the chat. The other party won’t be able to take screenshots, copy the text, or forward it. The same protections available for View Once photos and videos will apply to text messages.
While WhatsApp might be testing the View Once text feature right now, it’s unclear when it’ll roll it out globally. But once the feature is ready for mass consumption, it’ll be available on Android and iPhone.