Why you shouldn’t treat “View once” mode for media on WhatsApp as a privacy feature

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WhatsApp recently introduced a new feature on the latest beta of the app called View Once Mode for Messages, allowing users to send photos of the app to their contacts which can only be opened once. . The feature basically ensures that any media sent by a user is only stored until it is opened and then deleted immediately. However, as users have discovered, there is a small caveat to using this new feature – WhatsApp does not prevent users from taking a screenshot of your media, nor does it alert you when a contact attempts to do so.

However, this feature appears to work as expected, according to WABetaInfo, the manager of the WhatsApp feature leaks. In one blog post, the leaker notes that the decision not to block or notify users when a media view-once screenshot is taken, was likely made to protect the user.

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Here’s why it makes sense for WhatsApp to release the feature without being able to prevent screenshots and not notify users when a screenshot is taken.

It is not always easy to detect screenshots on smartphones

There are ways to detect screenshots on a smartphone, including checking if the buttons were pressed or if a new file was added to the screenshots directory etc. Some of these are used by apps like Snapchat to let your contact know if they’ve taken a screenshot while chatting with them. However, there is a major flaw with this system. On a platform like Android, some users root their phones, which allows them to take screenshots without notifying the app, while other apps exist that simply record the entire screen without knowing it. of the application. In such a situation, users would not be informed.

New WhatsApp Feature: The Messenger app has added a new Show Once feature that allows users to share pictures that can only be opened once, after which they are removed from the chat. (WABetaInfo)

Trusting your interlocutor is an important factor

When chatting with a contact, it’s important to note that there are ways for the other party to record the screen without ever letting WhatsApp know – including using another smartphone or video recorder to take a video. content or take photos in case a post has been shared. As a result, it comes down to the trust you place in the other user when communicating with them. If WhatsApp claims that no screenshots were taken, it would mislead the user into a false sense of security. That is why it is more prudent for the application to inform the users that the media may be captured by the other party.

Why should users consider View Once as a privacy feature?

The simple answer is, you shouldn’t be using View Once as a privacy feature. Instead, as the developers of the Private Signal Messaging app (which introduced this feature to the app in January 2020), note that it should ideally be used as a method of keeping your cat tidy, just like the disappearing cats feature. The unique view mode for media will ensure that these files won’t clog your device’s valuable storage, which is a very useful feature for an app like WhatsApp.


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