WhatsApp may be about to clone Snapchat's distinctive disappearing chats feature
- WhatsApp is working on a "disappearing messages" feature which would let users set chats to self-destruct automatically. Website WABetaInfo spotted the code in a new beta version of WhatsApp on Android.
- The feature means users will be able to set messages to disappear after five seconds or one hour, but it only appears to be available for group rather than private chats.
- Self-deleting messages are an increasingly common feature in chat apps, but the concept was initially made popular by Snapchat, which Facebook has repeatedly cloned.
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It looks like WhatsApp is working on a feature that would let users' messages disappear or 'self-destruct' after a set amount of time.
We first saw the news via The Verge and a beta version of the new feature was spotted by WABetaInfo.
Per WABetaInfo, the feature first appeared in the 2.19.275 version of WhatsApp's Android app but it might not be available for all beta users. The feature allows users to enable "disappearing messages" and to set an expiration time for all chats. According to screenshots shared by WABetaInfo, you can set messages to disappear after five seconds or an hour. The feature looks like it's only present in group chats.
The new feature may be part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's masterplan for his firm's services, including WhatsApp. In March, Zuckerberg said the various Facebook-owned messaging platforms would work better together, would have end-to-end encryption, and have auto-deletion by default.
A disappearing messages feature would offer WhatsApp's massive user base greater privacy and - of course - a way for users to save face if they send a message they regret.
It will also bring WhatsApp in line with other messaging apps. Telegram's 'Secret Chats' feature also gives users the option of having their messages, photos, videos and files self-destruct. Signal also has a disappearing chats function.
WhatsApp declined to comment when contacted by Business Insider.
Disappearing messages is yet another idea originally pioneered by Snapchat
Disappearing messages might now be more common, but it was initially made popular by Facebook's major rival Snapchat.
Read more: Here are all the time Facebook has copied Snapchat so far
Snapchat was the original pioneer of disappearing messages, and references its ephemeral nature with its company logo of a ghost.
This would just be the latest Snapchat feature to be cloned by Facebook, after the firm borrowed the concept of augmented reality selfie filters, shareable QR codes in Messenger, and rolled out a copycat of 'Stories'.
Get the latest Snap stock price here.
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