In a significant development for Meta’s messaging apps, WhatsApp is set to roll out a new feature that allows users to send disappearing voice messages. This feature, similar to the “View Once” option for photos and videos introduced in 2021, enables users to send voice messages that can only be listened to once before vanishing.
Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, views this as a valuable addition to its platform, enhancing security in conversations where users prefer information not to be stored digitally. For instance, users can utilize this feature when planning surprises or sharing sensitive information meant for one-time use, such as credit card numbers with friends or family.
Disappearing Voice Messages accessible for a single playback
To ensure clarity, these disappearing voice messages will be visibly marked with a “one-time” icon, notifying recipients that the message is only accessible for a single playback before disappearing. WhatsApp emphasizes that these messages, like the “View Once” photos and videos, are protected by default with end-to-end encryption.
This update to WhatsApp aligns with Meta’s broader strategy of implementing privacy-focused changes across its social platforms. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a 2019 address, outlined the company’s commitment to safety, private interactions, interoperability, and encryption. While Meta has recently scaled back on certain efforts, such as discontinuing cross-messaging between Instagram and Facebook, it has followed through on encryption promises. Encryption was added to WhatsApp chat backups in 2021, and now end-to-end encryption is being rolled out in Messenger.
The global rollout of WhatsApp’s View Once feature for voice messages is set to take place over the next several days, ensuring users worldwide will soon have access to this added privacy feature. While not immediately visible in all apps, users can expect the option to become available soon.
The concept of ephemeral data, where messages automatically delete after being viewed, gained popularity a decade ago with Snapchat. Despite early attempts by various companies, including Meta’s Poke, Wickr, Confide, Hash, and others, to capitalize on this idea, most failed. However, the notion of self-destructive messaging has endured. WhatsApp’s introduction of disappearing voice messages represents a creative application of this concept, offering users a Mission Impossible-esque experience while actively enhancing privacy, especially for sensitive audio recordings. Whether sharing credit card details or discussing confidential matters, this new feature underscores the platform’s commitment to user privacy and security.