Undoubtedly, WhatsApp is a must-have app that you can’t skip installing on your phone. With over 1.5 Billion users, it is the undisputed champion of messaging apps. It not just delivers the messages instantly but lets us know the delivery statuses as well. In short, the seamless connectivity it offers makes our life easier. Chatting with friends and family over it is the new norm.

After its launch in 2009, the app has introduced plenty of great features. The group option, video calling, and chatbots for businesses are some of them. Besides, the app makes no compromise with the privacy of users. To ensure this, it already had a unique feature called End-to-end Encryption. The messages sent or received convert into jumbled texts that no unsolicited intruder can decode.

Another major step it took to ensure privacy is introducing disappearing messages. As the name sounds, the messages vanish after a while. Nonetheless, the users can set this optional feature as per convenience. Since Meta acquired the company, this can be among the best features presented to the users. As of now, it’s so unique that you may not find it in other messaging apps.

Advantages of disappearing messages in WhatsApp

  • This disappearing message in WhatsApp is easy to use and takes no setup time.
  • With just a few taps, you can ensure your privacy. Sometimes, it can be a lifesaver and can rescue you from legalities. It can act as a shield, especially while interacting for work purposes.
  • From 24 hours to 90 days, you can choose from a wide range of time intervals to auto-delete the messages.
  • After a while, WhatsApp messages can pile up and exhaust too much space in your phone. This revolutionary feature can help you get rid of this clutter.

Limitations in WhatsApp Disappearing Messages

There aren’t many disadvantages to this great feature, and users love it. But to name a few, here are they.

  • One can’t recover or get back the deleted messages. They have vanished forever, and no amount of data skills can recover them.
  • One can’t choose a time frame of fewer than 24 hours or more than 90 days. Besides, you can only choose between four options and can’t be specific about time internally. However, we may see an upgrade in this field in the future.
  • The recipient can still access the media by several backdoor methods, such as taking screenshots and backing up chats.

Where do other messaging apps stand?

Many apps have End-to-end Encryption that helps stop anyone from intercepting your messages. However, it can’t protect privacy if someone gets physical access to your phone. One such app that offers Encryption with disappearing messages feature is Signal.

  • A famous cyber security specialist at ESET, Jake Moore, suggests that Encryption is not enough. It’s more secure when the smartphone doesn’t have data at all. And this is where the Vanishing messages feature can enter the picture.
  • Both apps offer vanishing messages with some clashing differences. For example, users in Signal can choose the messages to disappear at a vast range of times from one second to four weeks. While Whatsapp lets users choose between 24 hours to 90 days.
  • In Signal, every vanishing message has a countdown timer at the bottom. Whereas the timer appears on the top of the chatbox in WhatsApp.
  • There is also an extra feature in the Signal app that lets you send disappearing media files separately. The + symbol represents it, and you can find it in the bottom left of your screen.

To summarize, there aren’t as many customization options in WhatsApp as in Signal. It could be because this feature is comparatively new in WhatsApp. However, Meta always strives for the best and will launch more control options.

When to opt Disappearing Messages?

It’s a splendid tool for those who fear unauthorized viewership of their messages. Well, it could be about something they want to keep to themselves. The information and data specialist of Lighthouse IG Scott Sammons suggests that it will be helpful for victims of domestic abuse.

Caveats to take into account

  • There are some cautions to consider while using this feature. After enabling auto-downloads, the phone automatically saves any media. Whatsapp may delete the message, but the media might be hanging on your phone. So, you must turn the auto-downloads off if you don’t want this to happen.
  • Open Whatsapp on your phone and tap on the three dots present on the top right of your screen. A menu will open, and in the bottom-most option, you’ll find the Settings option.
  • After tapping Settings, you’ll find a sub-menu. First, you have to go to the Media auto-download section. Afterward, uncheck the Photos, Audio, Videos, and Document checkboxes.
  • According to WhatsApp, replies to disappearing messages can stay in the chat for seven days. You can later access the messages if you back up before auto-deletion. Therefore, you should rely on this feature only when communicating with trustworthy people. Nonetheless, there are several ways to save the chat, even when this feature shields a chat. It includes taking screenshots and clicking the images from other cameras. Signal also warns users not to be dependent on it, especially when the contact is a foe.

How to use it like a pro

Using disappearing messages in WhatsApp is easy as a cakewalk. You can enable it in individual and group chats if you’re the admin. Here is how to enable it on your phone and desktop.

Step 1: First, open WhatsApp on your phone or desktop.

Step 2: Now, tap on the contacts or group’s name and scroll a little to go to the bottom section. You’ll find the “Disappearing messages” option.

Step 3: Finally, you can choose from further prompted options like 24 hours, 7 days, and 90 days.

Disabling the vanishing messages

WhatsApp allows you to disable it at any point at your convenience. But, as expected, the messages will not vanish after disabling them.

Step 1: To start, you need to open the WhatsApp application on your phone or desktop.

Step 2: Now, select the contact or group where you want to turn off this feature.

Step 3: After scrolling, you’ll locate the option below Encryption. You need to tap on it and choose Off.

Step 4: Finally, proceed with the prompted responses and turn off this feature.

Send media files with View Once for an additional layer of privacy

As the name suggests, your media files will vanish as soon as the receiver views them in this option. It also works as a substitute for Whatsapp disappearing messages if you want the media files to disappear. Note that you must use the latest WhatsApp version to access this feature.

Some benefits of this feature

  • Unlike disappearing messages, it ensures that the recipient can’t save photos or videos in Phone Gallery.
  • Besides, the recipient can’t forward it to another user or mark it as a star. Also, you must select this option every time you send the media.
  • The media files in this option have a termination period of 14 days. It’s inaccessible after that time interval, even if one hasn’t viewed it.
  • Whatsapp protects the sender by adding a screenshot-blocking feature so the recipient can’t save it otherwise.
  • Most importantly, one can’t restore the media files by backing them up even with no viewership. It closes the backdoor technique with which one saves Whatsapp disappearing messages.

Some limitations

If the receiver is using an old version of Whatsapp, he might be able to take screenshots.

Still, it couldn’t protect the media from the recording of other cameras.

WhatsApp stores the photos and videos on its servers in encrypted methodology for several weeks. Nevertheless, it may access them in case of reporting by the recipient.

How to send and receive media files?

Receiving files in this mode is the same as in the normal mode. The only difference is the files vanish after closing them. Also, sending media files with View only mode is not rocket science. Indeed, it takes only a few taps, and here is how to send it.

Step 1: It all starts with opening the group or individual chat in which you want to send the file.

Step 2: Click on the Attachment icon in the message box and select the photo or video.

Step 3: In the caption box, you’ll find an icon representing 1.

Step 4: Finally, you can tap on send icon after setting the View Once feature at the One icon.

To stay ahead of other users, you must know about disappearing messages on WhatsApp. You must be aware of this feature if you use the app extensively. Besides, such great features leap this app ahead of others in the market. Also, they attribute to its vast success by making it indispensable for communication.

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Published on: Feb 11, 2023