“You need to think twice before you send any post on WhatsApp,” warns Purja Adiswara, an expert lawyer in digital law, ahead of the new function that gives the sender the ability to approve or decline the ability to download the sent content, which was recently announced to hype and cymbals by Mark Zuckerberg. Although WhatsApp has a high level of security and privacy thanks to its end-to-end encryption, one must always bear in mind that there is a risk that the shared information may be viewed, shared or stored by third parties.
Zuckerberg did not hesitate to describe the new feature as a “superpower”. Is it really? WhatsApp temporary messages allow users to send content that will automatically disappear after a specific period of time chosen by the sender himself. This feature is designed to improve privacy and control over conversations on the platform; Now, when sending a message or multimedia content, the sender can choose to have it disappear after 24 hours, seven days, or 90 days. This configuration is defined for each conversation, that is, you must specify the person or group that you want the messages to self-destruct after a while.
Accurate management of temporary messages
By enabling messages to disappear by default, you reduce the possibility that shared information will remain stored on the devices of the participants in the conversation. Reducing this possibility reduces the risk of sharing content that the sender wants to keep to themselves or share only with the specified recipient. Sensitive information such as a credit card number, account number, or sensitive content such as a photo that may compromise the moral integrity of the person depicted.
With the new feature, the recipient sees a new button at the top of the chat that allows them to save this temporary message to their device. In fact, it is a request, because the sender will receive an alert on his mobile phone screen indicating that the recipient wants to immortalize the temporary content, and the sender has the power to approve or reject this request.
However, these features do not completely eliminate the risk associated with losing control over shared information, as recipients can still take screenshots or forward temporary messages before they disappear.
Slightly decaffeinated super power
The new feature adds an extra layer of security by notifying the sender that the recipient is attempting to download or save an ephemeral message, and allowing or blocking that action. But it is more a declaration of intent than real protection. It is an issue that generates a lot of confusion. It is important to highlight that everything we publish on the Internet, be it a blog or a social network, is no longer under our control, ”explains Fernando Suarez, President of the General Council of Computer Engineering Faculties.
“Nothing prevents, for example, making recordings of the mobile phone screen and thus saving conversations or messages that can only be seen once or doing so before being deleted by the sender,” Suarez concludes. This is because WhatsApp has no control over what happens on the recipient’s phone once the content appears on their screen: it can capture or copy the message without the sender knowing.
Does this mean that whoever sends it is completely unprotected? The answer is “no”: “There is a novelty with the non-consensual retransmission of sexual images and it is that with the ‘yes only yes’ law it can constitute a crime,” explains Purja Adsuara. In other words, the new functionality does not technically prevent temporary information from being captured, but the sender is protected against further information release. This expert refers to Article 197-7 of the Penal Code, which punishes with imprisonment “from one to three months whoever receives, publishes, discloses or transmits images or audiovisual recordings to others without the consent of the affected person.”
However, experts see this new function as a step forward in defending the privacy of information circulating on the Internet. “I see something positive in this measure. Not so much in the functionality of WhatsApp itself, but precisely in those critical analyzes of this novelty that can generate a collective awareness that even what a user deletes on the Internet can be recovered, sometimes even without his consent or knowledge, “he highlights Fernando Suarez.
When there is an agreement on the part of the experts, we must remember that it is the sender who must create their own layer of protection, limiting as much as possible the information that could compromise them on WhatsApp and on social networks. When messages are sent, you lose control of the shared information to some extent, and they can be forwarded, screen captured, stored in backups, or even viewed through third-party apps.
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