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WhatsApp is rolling out 'view once' messages to Android beta testers

The feature lets you share media that can only be viewed a single time before vanishing.

The logo of the messenger app WhatsApp is seen on the screen of a smartphone in New Delhi, India on May 27, 2021. WhatsApp has filed a legal complaint in Delhi against the government seeking to block regulations coming into force from Wednesday that experts say would compel the California-based Facebook unit to break privacy protections, according to Reuters sources. (Photo by Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NurPhoto via Getty Images
Saqib Shah
Saqib Shah|@eightiethmnt|June 30, 2021 8:40 AM

Facebook is diving into ephemeral messaging. After debuting self-erasing media and texts on Messenger and Instagram, the social giant is rolling out a similar feature on WhatsApp. Starting today, the app's beta testers on Android have begun to receive a "View Once" mode that wipes photos and videos as soon as you view and dismiss them. You'll know if you have access to the new feature if you see a dedicated button (that looks like a timer) in the caption input field, according to the experts at WABetaInfo

Not to be confused with WhatsApp's disappearing messages — which delete within seven days — photos and video sent using view once mode are single-use only and vanish after you close them. You'll get a notification once your media has been viewed. 

Despite the added sheen of privacy, there are some quirks you should be aware of before jumping in. As noted by WABetaInfo, disabling read receipts won't stop others from being notified if a view once message has been opened — though, you won't see when a recipient open yours. In groups, you'll be able to see when members have opened disappearing media even if you have read receipts disabled. 

Also, there's nothing stopping people from screenshotting your message without you finding out. View once apparently still works if you send a message to someone who doesn't have access to the feature. Those on iOS will reportedly get the new mode at a later date.

Facebook announced the feature in June on the heels of its divisive WhatsApp privacy policy update. The tech giant was forced to delay the new rules to mid-May from early February following an outcry over its access to additional user data. Facebook also later backtracked on its decision to limit WhatsApp features for those who didn't accept the changes. The company has previously painted ephemeral messaging as a way to encourage more authentic and intimate conversations.

WhatsApp is rolling out 'view once' messages to Android beta testers