Your future WhatsApp messages, should you choose to accept it, will self-destruct in five seconds. Or 1 hour, whichever feels more convenient. The feature is currently in alpha testing according to a recent discovery, so there’s no telling when or even if the new Snapchat-esque feature will ever actually make it to the app. Even so, it goes to show that Facebook is considering stealing yet another feature from Snapchat for one of its apps, or maybe even all of its messaging apps at some point down the road.
The self-destruct messages are called Disappearing messages, and are available in the WhatsApp beta version for Android (v2.19.275), WABetaInfo reports. Any message marked as a disappearing message will be automatically deleted from the WhatsApp chat history, which might be a convenient feature to have for certain content that you want to share with the app.
WhatsApp, of course, is the only Facebook app that supports end-to-end encryption, so your messages are already secure. But being able to have some of them disappear after a set amount is something that plenty of other messaging apps support.
As you can see in the screenshot above, there are only two expiration options available, including five seconds or 1 hour. Presumably, the messages will disappear after they’ve been read by the recipient, which is the only way the five-second option makes sense.
Considering that Facebook wants to bring end-to-end encryption to Messenger and Instagram as well, and unify its instant messaging platforms at some point, we might see this disappearing messages feature on all of its apps once cross-app messaging is possible. That’s just speculation at this point, based on the assumption that the self-destructing message feature will graduate from the beta app and eventually make its way to the public version of WhatsApp.