What is the WhatsApp disappearing photos feature and how can I use it?

You may have heard that WhatsApp has recently introduced a new feature that allows you to send photos and videos that disappear.

The new update, called View Once, was launched in August and automatically deletes photos and videos after they’ve been opened.

Facebook, which owns the platform, has said that the feature is designed to give users more control over their privacy. It follows the introduction of a disappearing-messages function last November, which erases messages for both the sender and the recipient after seven days.

But what is the new feature, and how can I use it?

View Once allows users to send photos and videos that can only be seen the first time a message is opened. Anything sent using the feature will be marked with a “one-time” icon, which will change to “opened” once viewed. After the recipient opens the message for the first time, the photo or video will be automatically deleted from the user’s device.

Pictures and videos sent using the feature can’t be forwarded or saved, and will expire if not opened for 14 days. Users will also be able to report anything they receive if they believe it violates the platform’s Terms of Service.

According to WhatsApp, View Once will allow users to share personal media they wouldn’t normally send. For example, pictures of sensitive information like a Wi-Fi password. The update could  also help users free up storage space on their devices by automatically deleting what they share.

Anything sent using the new feature will be protected by end-to-end encryption. However, WhatsApp’s support documents have warned that encrypted content may remain on the platform’s servers a couple of weeks after being sent. It’s also important to consider that while photos and videos are deleted, someone can still take a screenshot of what you share when opening a message for the first time.

How can I use it?

  • Make sure you have the latest version of WhatsApp, which can be downloaded
  • Open an existing chat on the app. Either tap the camera icon to take a photo, or the paper clip icon to select one from your Gallery.
  • On the left of the Send button in the text field, tap the circular icon with a number 1 in the middle.
  • Hit Send, and a message will appear with the View Once icon to confirm that the photo or video has been sent. However, you won’t be able to see the media itself.
  • Once the media has been viewed, the message will change to “opened” and the 1 will disappear.

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