Inside Politics

TikTok tests Snapchat style vanishing video stories feature

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 00:00 |

Video-sharing platform TikTok is trialling a new vanishing clips feature similar to functions on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.

TikTok Stories will allow users to see content posted by accounts they follow for 24 hours before they are deleted.

It comes as WhatsApp rolls out a feature for users to post photos or videos that vanish after they are seen.

This week rival social media platform Twitter shut down its Fleets disappearing stories feature.

TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, told the BBC: “We’re always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience.”

“Currently we’re experimenting with ways to give creators additional formats to bring their creative ideas to life for the TikTok community,” the spokesperson added.

The feature was highlighted by social media consultant Matt Navarra, who shared screenshots of TikTok Stories on Twitter.

TikTok is the latest major social media platform to experiment with the feature first made popular by Snapchat.

Videos vanish

The news comes as Facebook-owned WhatsApp rolls out a function that allows its users to have photos or videos vanish after they are seen.

In the “view once” feature, an image is deleted after the recipient opens it for the first time and doesn’t save to a phone.

WhatsApp said the feature was aimed at “giving users even more control over their privacy”.

However, child protection advocates have expressed concerns that automatically vanishing messages could help cover up evidence of child sexual abuse.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is already at odds with WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook over the use of encrypted messaging.

Such encryption means police cannot see the messages “in transit” - only the sender and receiver can.

But auto-deleting messages could mean that devices seized in police raids would no longer contain evidence either.

Greater risk

“This view once feature could put children at even greater risk by giving offenders another tool to avoid detection and erase evidence, when efforts to combat child sexual abuse are already hindered by end-to-end encryption,” said Alison Trew, the charity’s senior online safety officer.

On August 3, Twitter discontinued its Fleets function which allowed users to post photos and videos that disappeared after 24 hours.                  – BBC

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