Whatsapp adds disappearing voice messages to its roster of privacy features

This tool was already available for messages and photos.


When Snapchat introduced the notion of “ephemeral data” to the masses a decade ago, self-destructive messaging really took off. There were tons of companies trying to cash in, from Meta-created Poke to Wickr, Confide, Hash and others. For the most part, all of those companies failed, but the idea has thrived. To that end, WhatsApp just introduced voice messages that automatically delete after being played.

The messaging app’s View Once feature already exists for photos and messages, but this is the first time it has been applied to voice messages. The interface is simple. Just select View Once and make a voice message. It’ll self-destruct after the recipient hears it. This is not only fun in a Mission Impossible sort of way, but actively enhances privacy in the case of audio recordings that mention sensitive topics. Hey, once in a while you have to give someone credit card details and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

There are some caveats, as no technology is foolproof. WhatsApp encourages users to only send View Once voice messages to people they trust, as there are ways to get around the ephemeral nature of the data. For instance, Android users can use the screen record function as they listen and anyone can use another camera or external microphone to capture the message.

The tool’s rolling out globally over the next few days, so it might be a bit before the update hits your box. WhatsApp has been making all sorts of improvements throughout the past year. Just last week, the platform introduced the ability to share photos in their original format, without compression. The app also recently added a tool that masks your IP address when making calls.