WhatsApp adds support for disappearing voice messages

While today’s bigger news from the world of Meta’s messaging apps was the rollout of end-to-end encryption in Messenger, the company is also bringing another useful feature to its WhatsApp users: disappearing voice messages. The new feature will allow users to send a voice message that can only be listened to once before it disappears, similar to the “View Once” option for photos and videos introduced back in 2021.

The company notes the feature could bring added security to conversations where you don’t want the information retained in digital form — like when planning a surprise or sharing sensitive information with a friend or family member, like your credit card number meant for a one-time use.

These messages will be clearly marked with a “one-time” icon so the recipient knows they can only listen to the message once before it’s gone. That way, they won’t attempt to play it in a place where they may not be able to hear well, or will be prepared to take notes if there’s information they need to remember from the message. WhatsApp says the messages are protected with end-to-end encryption by default, as are the “View Once” photos and videos.

The update to WhatsApp follows a series of privacy-focused changes to Meta’s social platforms, which Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg heralded as the future in a 2019 address. In it, the exec touted promises around safety, private interactions, interoperability, encryption and more, though recently Meta quietly rolled things back on one of these efforts as it announced it would discontinue cross-messaging across Instagram and Facebook, despite the EU’s regulations via the Digital Markets Act (DMA) that requires large messaging apps to be interoperable.

However, the company has made good on some encryption promises, having added encryption to WhatsApp chat backups in 2021 and now, finally, the rollout of end-to-end encryption in Messenger. 

WhatsApp’s new View Once feature for voice messages feature is rolling out globally over the next several days, the company says. That means you may not see the option immediately in your app, but should soon.

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