Facebook’s new ‘disappearing messages’ are safer than WhatsApp’s - here’s why

WhatsApp is one of the biggest messaging apps in the world, with around 1.6 billion users accessing it on a monthly basis. One of the app’s biggest draws is the data protection it offers. WhatsApp itself even says, “Privacy and security is in our DNA.”

However, it appears that the app’s security has now been outdone by rival messaging app, Facebook Messenger.

Both platforms have recently released a “disappearing messages” feature, and it’s here that WhatsApp falls short.

WhatsApp disappearing messages

Earlier this month, WhatsApp confirmed the launch of its ‘disappearing messages’ feature, allowing users to send messages which automatically delete after seven days. However, there are a number of ways people can get around the seven day expiry date.

If a user doesn’t open WhatsApp in the seven day period, the message will still disappear. However, the preview of the message may continue to be displayed in notifications until WhatsApp is opened.

When you reply to a message, the initial message you are replying to is quoted. Therefore, if you reply to a disappearing message, the quoted text could still remain in the chat after seven days.

If a disappearing message is forwarded to a chat with the disappearing message option turned off, the message won’t disappear in the chat it’s been forwarded into.

If a user creates a backup of the chat before the message disappears, the disappearing message will be included in the backup.

WhatsApp also says to only use disappearing messages with trusted individuals, because it’s possible that they could:

forward or take a screenshot of the disappearing message and save it before it disappearscopy and save content from the disappearing message before it disappearstake a photo of the disappearing message with a camera or other device before it disappears

Facebook vanish mode

Facebook Messenger also recently announced the launch of its “vanish mode” feature, which is similar to WhatsApp, but offers a number of upgraded options.

While WhatsApp only offers a seven day expiring timer, Facebook Messenger vanish mode lets users send messages which disappear automatically after they have been seen and the users have left the chat.

Facebook also states, “If someone takes a screenshot of your chat while you’re using vanish mode, you’ll be notified.”

Vanish mode can be switched on and off within a chat. To turn it on, swipe up on your mobile device in an existing chat thread. Swipe up again to return to the regular chat.

Facebook Messenger also has a ‘secret conversations’ option, where content is end to end encrypted. This also offers a disappearing message feature.

To access the secret conversations mode, tap on the small ‘i’ icon in the upper right hand corner of a message thread. Scroll down, and you should see “go to secret conversation” sandwiched between “search in conversation” and “create group with [contact].”

In the secret conversation mode, you can set a timer for when your messages will disappear after they’ve been seen, lasting from five seconds up to one day.

When will vanish mode be available in the UK?

The new Vanish Mode feature is available in the US right now. It will be coming to the UK soon, but there is no set date for the feature to launch.

Secret conversations are currently available for UK users, if you have disappearing messages you wish to send.

The disappearing message feature is currently available on WhatsApp.