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WhatsApp Begins Testing Disappearing Messages Feature On Android

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WhatsApp has introduced much-needed privacy-first features for the messenger app with disappearing messages and “View Once” media. The Facebook-owned messenger app is testing out disappearing messages with 90 days limit with WhatsApp Beta Version 2.21.17.16. 

New WhatsApp beta version 2.21.17.16 still with security concerns 

WhatsApp is testing a new 90 day limit for disappearing messages with WhatsApp Beta Version 2.21.17.16 for Android. Tested and reported by WABetaInfo. The beta version also includes a 24-hour time limit. Previously spotted in beta version 2.21.9.6 but not released to the public.

Privacy advocators have called out WhatsApp to add privacy features for conversations. And the company delivered with 7 Days disappearing messages back in late 2020. With what the latest beta reveals, a three-month auto-delete period does not seem to align with WhatsApp’s claims of making conversations close to in person. Sensitive messages set to expire in 90 days may be compromised, left unaccounted for, or saved via screenshots. 

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In one-to-one conversations, either person can set disappearing messages that will expire in 90 days regardless if viewed or not. For group conversations, time limits can be set by group admins.

In the current version, alongside disappearing messages, senders can also send “View Once” images, files, videos, and media. But, disappearing media can be compromised with screen recording and screenshots as they are not time-sensitive. View Once media only expires when media is closed. 

It should be noted that conversations and “View Once” media are protected by end-to-end encryption. 

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How will it compare with the competition?

If the beta message disappearing limits are available to the public, they still fall behind the competition. Signal, an open-source messaging app, lets users set custom time limits for disappearing messages. Telegram takes private conversations to the next level with “Secret Chats.” When users opt for secret chat, messages can be set to expire and are highly secured with encryption.

Facebook has faced a lot of public and regulatory scrutiny over its privacy policies. With at least offering new privacy features with disappearing messages and “View Once” media, WhatsApp still makes a compelling platform as a private messaging app.

If speculated, both of the new expiration limits should roll out with the next WhatsApp update for Android users worldwide.  

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Messaging apps today should develop user’s trust with proper security measures and features. Messaging apps have been targets of data breaches, and offering privacy features do help in controlling user data. 

WhatsApp Beta Version 2.21.17.16
WhatsApp Beta Version 2.21.17.16