Social media platform WhatsApp (owned by Meta) has introduced a ‘disappearing messages’ feature, which users will have the option to turn off or on. Users can now choose for messages to disappear after 24 hours or 90 days, as well as the existing option of seven days. In a blog post, Meta said “deciding how long a message lasts should be in your hands”.
Meta says the new feature is based on privacy. “As more of our conversations move from face-to-face to digital, we acknowledge there is a certain magic in just sitting down with someone in-person, sharing your thoughts in confidence… knowing that conversation isn’t being recorded and stored somewhere forever,” it explained.
There are some concerns around the misuse of disappearing messages.
Acting eSafety Commissioner Rebecca Razavi told TDA: “Like all platforms that allow social interaction, WhatsApp can be open to misuse and can expose adults, teens and even children to unwanted contact from strangers, being bullied or abused, or being exposed to harmful content.””The short-lived nature of messages on a platform – when the ‘disappearing messages’ feature is enabled – could make it more difficult for victims of abuse to collect evidence,” Razavi added. Razavi further said, “but if things do go wrong there are still things people can do to preserve this evidence, like taking screen shots of the abusive content before it disappears.”