1.5 billion people’s WhatsApp messages will self-destruct

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A new feature has been discovered which has revealed that WhatsApp is finally testing self-destructing messages.

The team over at Facebook is presently testing this feature and they are the team that’s currently developing this privacy-focused update in WhatsApp for Android 2.19.275. (Photo: Pixabay)

A new WhatsApp beta build for Android that’s submitted to the Google Play Beta Program shows that the instant messaging service is finally started testing self-destructing messages. As per the leak that’s spotted by WABetaInfo, this new feature is at present in the alpha stage of development and won’t be available to all of its users as of now. Take a look and see what is known about this new privacy feature for WhatsApp.

What’s this WhatsApp self-destructing message feature all about?

The team over at Facebook is presently testing this feature and they are the team that’s currently developing this privacy-focused update in WhatsApp for Android 2.19.275. A disappearing message will be the WhatsApp version of self-destructing messages that are found in rival apps such as iMessage, Telegram, Wickr and more. This feature was the reason for Snapchat gaining its mass appeal and Facebook is extremely late in enabling this feature for WhatsApp.

However, this will be a very welcome addition to WhatsApp and Forbes reports that it would appear that the self-destructing feature will work as you might expect.

Explaining this new feature, Forbes states, “The user will enable the disappearing messages option in group settings and can then set a time interval of between five seconds and an hour. That timer will start running when a member of the group chat reads the message, and once the clock has run down that message will then be "disappeared" by automatically deleting it from the chat. According to the WABetaInfo report, once a message has been removed in this way, "there will be no tracks available in the chat about deleted messages." It is not known at this point whether a copy of the message will remain on the WhatsApp servers once read by everyone, and if so for how long.”

When will this feature arrive for WhatsApp?

As mentioned earlier, this feature is currently in the alpha stage of testing and development and as of now, there is no insight on when it will be enabled as a working function in the WhatsApp beta app. Also, it is yet unknown if it will be available for private chats as well as group chats.

Will these self-destructing messages be foolproof?

Forbes comments on this by stating, “Given that privacy is the major buzzword around Facebook's apps, it comes as no surprise to Jake Moore, a cybersecurity specialist at ESET, that WhatsApp is "copying this feature that is already used in others such as Signal or Telegram." Indeed, Moore says that "disappearing messages make a worthy feature within a messaging app if you fear someone at your or your recipient’s end may physically see the message on the device."

That’s not to say that the messages are transient of course. The timer will only begin after the messages have been viewed and to be in full stealth mode, you would have to rely on reducing notifications as well, Moore explains. What this means that even if the taking of screenshots is not enabled, it doesn’t mean that a record cannot be kept within the self-destruction countdown. Forbes says, “It's not possible to prevent someone determined to keep a copy from merely taking a photo of it with another device. Not likely, for most people, but certainly not impossible and so it would be a mistake to think of such disappearing messages functionality as being foolproof.”

Moore goes on to say, “Adding extra security to any application is always a good idea, and this sounds like a quick win for WhatsApp. But I feel that if people are really serious about their security and privacy they will still use independent encrypted messaging services for those more exclusive conversations."