WhatsApp is reportedly working on new feature that will give users the option to automatically delete an image, video or GIF after their contacts have seen it.
The ‘Expiring Media’ feature, discovered by independent WhatsApp experts WABetaInfo, adds the ability to delete media after the recipient has seen it once and exited the chat.
Expiring Media is allegedly due to arrive on WhatsApp beta for Android version 2.20.2011, which is currently ‘under development’ and without a release date.
WABetaInfo reported last month that WhatsApp is also working on introducing messages that will self-delete after a fixed period of one week.
WhatsApp told MailOnline that it wouldn’t be commenting on ‘speculation’ regarding either feature.
WhatsApp is allegedly working on a new feature called Expiring Media. When the user decides to send media (images, videos and GIFs), it will disappear when the recipient leaves the chat. Users will be able to select a new button (allegedly to the left of where it says ‘Add a caption’ to enable the feature, WABetaInfo reports
‘WhatsApp has just submitted a new update through the Google Play Beta Program, bringing the version up to 18.104.22.168,’ said WABetaInfo.
‘When the user decides to send an expiring media – images, videos and GIFs – the media will disappear in the recipient’s phone, once he leaves the chat.’
Once enabled, WhatsApp users will be given the option to send media that expires by tapping a new Expiring Media button next to the message box.
‘After tapping the button, the feature will be enabled for the selected media,’ WABetaInfo says.
Once sent, the image will ‘completely disappear’ after the recipient views it and exits the chat, although they will receive a warning message before they exit.
Generally, when WhatsApp users delete their messages, they are replaced by a box saying ‘this message was deleted’.
Unlike this, deleted media ‘will really disappear from the chat as part of the new feature’, WABetaInfo says, without such a box.
The report added that Expiring Media will ‘appear in a different way in the conversation’ to help users ‘easily understand the image is going to expire’, although it did not elaborate.
A spokesperson for the Facebook-owned chat platform told MailOnline that the report is ‘another one of those WABetaInfo-originated stories that we don’t comment on’.
However, it’s thought the ability to make messages and media appear only temporarily is another way the Facebook-owned chat platform can emulate Snapchat.
Screen capture by WABetaInfo allegedly shows the expiring messages feature, which would give WhatsApp users the option to make their messages disappear after a week
In August, WABetaInfo detailed a potential ‘Expiring Messages’ feature, which will apparently let users opt to make messages delete themselves after seven days.
‘Expiring messages is one of the biggest one that will be available in WhatsApp in future,’ it said.
‘[WhatsApp is] internally working on it, improving the feature with a bug fixing process.’
Any user will be able to turn on and off expiring messages in chats, while in groups, only group admins will be able to toggle the option on and off.
Messages sent and received when the feature was disabled won’t be affected, the report said.
WhatsApp reiterated its commitment to user privacy and encrypted messages back in February
Expiring messages will still be end-to-end encrypted, meaning they won’t be able to be read by anyone other than the sender and recipient.
WhatsApp, which was bought by Facebook in 2014 for about $19 billion, said that every private message sent using WhatsApp is secured with end-to-end encryption by default.
This acts like ‘an unbreakable digital lock’ that keeps the contents of messages secure and viewable to no-one except the sender and the recipient.
WhatsApp revealed in February that two billion people now use the messaging service – more than a quarter of the world’s population.
The platform celebrated the impressive milestone by reiterating its commitment to user privacy and encrypted messages.
END-TO-END ENCRYPTION: ONLY THE TWO USERS IN A CONVERSATION CAN READ MESSAGES
End-to-end encryption ensures only the two participants of a chat can read messages, and no one in between – not even the company that owns the service.
End-to-end encryption is intended to prevent data being read or secretly modified when it is in transit between the two parties.
The cryptographic keys needed to access the service are automatically provided only to the two people in each conversation.
In decrypted form, messages are accessible by a third party – which makes them interceptable by governments for law enforcement reasons.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is already encrypted, and now Mark Zuckerberg is looking to do the same with Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct.
The privacy standard is controversial, however – last year, UK children’s charity the NSPCC said Facebook’s plans to encrypt its messages will turn the website into a ‘one-stop grooming shop’ for paedophiles.
Charity bosses are concerned that Zuckerberg’s now delayed plans to boost the privacy protection could make it much harder to detect criminal activity across its sites.