Monday, November 30

ephemeral messages soon … if you have nothing to hide

WhatsApp backs off, ephemeral messages will not ensure user privacy

WhatsApp on iPhone

WhatsApp on iPhone // Gamesdone: @acreativegangster via Unsplash

For some time now, some rumors have been pointing to the imminent implementation of ephemeral messages within WhatsApp. Judging from an official FAQ, this is clearly not the most effective solution for preserving one’s privacy.

Several couriers already offer to send messages that destroy themselves after a few minutes or a few hours. This is the case with Signal, for example. WhatsApp, which relies on the same end-to-end encryption bases offered by Open Whisper Systems, however, seems to be taking a much less logical approach to implementing ephemeral messages.

Indeed, the specialized site WAbetainfo spotted an official support page posted on the publisher’s site, which has not yet been made visible within its general FAQ.

7 days or nothing

In previous experimental versions of WhatsApp, users were able to choose how long a message should last after it was read by the recipient. However, the Facebook subsidiary would have changed its mind: when the option is activated, all messages will disappear after 7 days without any possibility to customize this feature.

Suffice to say that this option is therefore more aimed at cleaning up the application rather than sending confidential messages to a contact.

No notion of confidentiality

Moreover, this is not the only aberration spotted within this page. Indeed, if the recipient does not use his phone for 7 days (!) The message will disappear by itself. However, the latter will still find its place in the notification center – unless of course this preview option has been previously disabled by the user. The fact remains that these “ephemeral messages” therefore have no specific treatment.

Introducing self-destructing messages is not a privacy option. When an ephemeral message is cited in a reply, it will always be visible. If this response is formulated a few minutes before its destruction, it will therefore be theoretically visible for… two weeks… that is to say until the expiry of the response citing the latter…

It is also important to note that an ephemeral message can not only be forwarded to a third party, but when conversations with that third party have not activated this due date feature, it will remain visible indefinitely. Moreover, these messages are also included in the backups made automatically before however disappearing after the restoration.

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