Signal app will support 'view-once' images and videos

Support for ephemeral multimedia messages to arrive in Signal within weeks.

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Whisper Systems

End-to-end encrypted instant messaging app Signal is working on adding support for ephemeral multimedia messages -- namely, images and videos that can be viewed once and are then automatically deleted from a user's device.

The feature is currently being tested in Signal beta releases and is expected to roll out to users of the main stable branch in the coming weeks.

To let users send disappearing multimedia content, Signal developers have added a new button to the Signal user interface that will let users mark images or videos as view-once.

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Image: Open Whisper Systems

"When you send a 'view-once' media message, the image or video won't be permanently stored in the sender or recipient's conversation history. Instead, an empty 'Viewed' media indicator helps maintain context without maintaining the file," said Joshua Lund, a developer on the Signal app.

Support for ephemeral multimedia has been one of the app's most requested features. The app is often used by journalists, politicians, dissidents, and other persons who'd like their encrypted conversations to disappear once they've achieved their purpose.

The Signal app already supports ephemeral text messages that can be set to expire and disappear based on timers that can range from five seconds to a week.

With the addition of ephemeral multimedia, Signal will allow users to have conversations that will disappear from devices once the interaction between the two users ends, removing any evidence any conversations have even occurred.

Users who believe they need access to view-once images and videos right now and can't wait until this feature reaches the stable branch can follow the instructions laid out on this page and sign up for Signal's beta program.