In November 2020, WhatsApp finally added a much-needed privacy feature: disappearing messages. While WhatsApp was initially limited to only one option (disappear after 7 days), WhatsApp later expanded the feature to also allow messages that disappear after 24 hours or 90 days.
Now, according to WABetaInfo, the company is working on an extreme version of the disappearing message — one that can only be viewed once before disappearing, for both the sender and the recipient.
The new feature can be found in the latest WhatsApp beta for Android, version 22.214.171.124. Once you send such a message, the recipient will no longer be able to share or forward the message.
Hi, me: WhatsApp now lets you send messages yourself
It’s worth noting that WhatsApp already has this feature for photos and videos; now it is expanding to text messages. When you send a one-time photo or video, the person on the other end of the line can’t take a screenshot of it; presumably the same functionality will also be enabled for one-time messages.
For photos and videos, the one-time view feature is enabled by choosing a photo or video to send and then tapping the circled “1” icon on the right side of the title prompt. For text messages, there is currently a dedicated send button icon with an added padlock, though the design may change once the feature comes out of beta.
Since the feature is currently live in WhatsApp beta, it’s reasonable to expect it to appear in a future update, but there are no guarantees when it will.
View-only messages are useful when you want to share something that should never be seen by anyone other than the intended recipient. While this is better than regular messages when privacy is important, be aware that the recipient can still keep a copy, for example by taking a picture of the phone’s display with another phone.