WhatsApp is launching a new feature that will allow users to share photos and videos that will disappear after they’ve been seen. Once the recipient receives the message, the “view once” feature will delete it and not save it to the recipient’s phone. WhatsApp says the feature was created to give “users even more control over their privacy.”
While this feature is not brand new (think Snapchat) some are still concerned that the feature introduces issues and helps child abuse evidence disappear. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is already in an ongoing dilemma with Facebook, WhatsApp’s parent company, over problems with encrypted messaging.
Encrypted messages create situations where police and investigators can’t see messages that are “in transit,” and that only the sender and recipient can. Auto-deleting messages also mean that phones seized by the authorities would no longer contain evidence.
Alison Trew, senior online safety officer at the charity shared: “This view once feature could put children at even greater risk by giving offenders another tool to avoid detection and erase evidence, when efforts to combat child sexual abuse are already hindered by end-to-end encryption.”
WhatsApp advertised the new feature as one that can be used by regular consumers for throwaway but still personal photos, for example while trying on clothing and asking a friend how they look, or perhaps for sending a password.
WhatsApp said in a statement: “Not everything we share needs to become a permanent digital record. On many phones, simply taking a photo means it will take up space in your camera roll forever.”