by BLOOMBERG / pic by BLOOMBERG
Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp will roll out disappearing messages to users this month, which will delete posts in a chat after seven days, mirroring rival platforms such as Signal.
The function should help “the conversation feel lighter and more private,” Facebook said in a statement on Thursday. For employers attempting to monitor record numbers of staff working from home, the app’s new feature may make it even more difficult to police communications.
Financial services businesses, such as banks and trading firms, have been struggling to rein in employees who use these private lines, which are encrypted end-to-end, for inappropriate conversations that include everything from offensive content to insider information.
In March, a Jefferies Group banker was fined in the U.K. for sharing confidential data on WhatsApp and a month later JPMorgan Chase & Co. punished more than a dozen traders for WhatsApp use and fired one. Last month, two senior commodities executives at Morgan Stanley left after compliance breaches linked to this type of communications tool.
Facebook has been introducing more disappearing posting options to users across its various social networks. Made popular by Snap Inc., which lets users send photos and videos that vanish after they’re opened, the features are a response to customers’ privacy concerns. Twitter Inc. also began testing disappearing posts called “fleets” earlier this year.
The development moves WhatsApp closer to rivals such as Signal, a messaging app endorsed by whistle-blower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden, which gives users the option to send timed messages that delete after a predetermined period of time, sometimes seven days.
Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg hinted at the developments when he said last year that the company’s focus would be on encrypted, private and ephemeral communications. Instagram’s Stories feature deletes posts after 24 hours.