Whatsapp ‘view once’ messages will ‘help paedophiles destroy evidence’ child safety campaigners warn
PLANS for “view once” messages on WhatsApp will help paedophiles “destroy evidence”, child safety campaigners have warned.
Mark Zuckerberg, boss of WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook, said he was “excited” to release the feature – where messages will disappear as soon as someone has read them.
WhatsApp already encrypts messages, meaning even the company can’t see what people send each other.
And last year, it introduced a tool which allowed users to automatically delete messages in individual chats.
Speaking to WaBetaInfo, Zuckerberg said the new “view once” feature was coming “soon”.
“WhatsApp was the first global scale messaging network to roll out end-to-end encryption, and now we’ve been working on rolling out more disappearing messages features globally as well,” he told the outlet in a WhatsApp message.
“We already rolled out the ability to turn on disppearing messages in any chat thread. We’re about to start rolling out ‘disappearing mode’, which turns on disppearing messages in all of your threads so your WhatsApp experience basically becomes ephemeral.
“We’re also about to start rolling out ‘view once’, so you can send content and have it disappear after the person sees it.
“All in, this will make WhatsApp messages even more private and secure! I’m excited to get this out to everyone soon.”
But the NSPCC slammed the move and said WhatsApp encryption already makes it difficult to prevent paedophiles from grooming children.
Andy Burrows, the head of child safety online policy at the NSPCC, told the Telegraph: “Rolling out these new features puts children at increased risk while offering abusers more tools to hide their crimes.
“WhatsApp already struggles to detect the full extent of child abuse on its platform… but disappearing messages and a ‘view once’ mode would allow criminals to erase evidence systematically.”
A WhatsApp spokesman told the newspaper: “We believe in giving people more control when it comes to the privacy of their messages.”
It comes after WhatsApp backtracked on its plans to block features for users who don’t agree with its new policies.
The chat platform was threatening to hold certain features at ransom so some users would have no choice but to click accept or stop using WhatsApp.
The deadline to accept the new WhatsApp policies was May 15.
The company had said users would still have a chance to accept the new terms after this, but would slowly lose access to certain features if they didn’t.
It originally said reminders would become persistent and hard to ignore.
However, its website now states: “We currently have no plans for these reminders to become persistent and to limit the functionality of the app.”
It added that the “majority of users who have have seen the update have accepted”.
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The good news is even users who haven’t accepted the new WhatsApp policies by the May 15 deadline still have a chance to keep their account working.
WhatsApp also told The Next Web: “Given recent discussions with various authorities and privacy experts, we want to make clear that we currently have no plans to limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works for those who have not yet accepted the update.
“Instead, we will continue to remind users from time to time about the update as well as when people choose to use relevant optional features, like communicating with a business that is receiving support from Facebook.”
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