WhatsApp is an American freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP service owned by Facebook, Inc. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media. From the inception of WhatsApp in 2009, to being acquired by Facebook in 2014 to present day, WhatsApp has seen lots of updates over the years, including the introduction of call feature, last seen, stickers and much more. WhatsApp has now become a social media giant with over 2 billion users all over the globe. With the WhatsApp’s latest and most unique feature, you will no longer have to keep months and even years old conversations. This article will dig deep into the latest feature update, how to use and enable it.
WhatsApp Disappearing Messages
WhatsApp has brought to the table its latest feature of self-destructing or disappearing messages which sounds familiar to delete for everyone feature rolled out in November 2017, however it is different in how it works. Any messages you designate to self-destruct or disappear will only remain visible for seven days. Very useful for a lot of people for a number of reasons especially if you don’t want your comments to hang around forever. The option to have messages delete themselves has been rumoured about since last November. Finally, the company has made it official. The update is currently in testing phase and is available to limited users only. A spokesperson said
Once enabled, new messages sent in the individual or group chat will disappear after seven days. The most recent selection controls all messages in the chat. This setting won’t affect messages you previously sent or received in the chat
How to Enable WhatsApp Disappearing Message
Messages will only start disappearing after you turn on the setting, and the ones already on your phone won’t go anywhere. To enable this new feature, follow the following steps:
- Open WhatsApp and go to the profile of the person / group you want to turn on disappearing message feature
- Scroll down on that page and tap on ‘Disappearing Messages‘ Option
- Tap ‘On‘ to turn on the disappearing messages / self-destruct feature
When this feature is activated, the chat icon shows a small clock next to the user/group display picture to signify that the feature has been activated, and a message appears in the chat itself to remind chatters that disappearing message feature has been activated.
Disappearing Messages option can also be turned on from WhatsApp Web and Desktop client.
Will The Messages Always Disappear ?
There are a few things to bear in mind if you’re going to self-destruct messages through the disappearing message feature. Once this feature is enabled, both sent and received messages will be deleted after seven days. If it is a conversation between you and your contact, then you can make the messages disappear, but in group chats only the admin has the option to do so. However, there are certain circumstances where the messages won’t disappear permanently. According to WhatsApp’s website, if you reply to a message that’s due to disappear, the quoted version of that message will remain even after the 7 day limit. The same applies to forwarded messages or if the recipient makes a backup of the chat. They can be copied or taken screenshots of within that time period and the same notice is also shown to you when you activate this feature for the first time.
For now, there is no clear update on when this new feature will be released to everyone. It was said to have been released sometime in November, so it can come out in the next few weeks or days. Features are at time pushed back if there is an underlying issue that is the reason there is a soft beta push to make sure the feature does not interfere with any other existing feature or functionality of WhatsApp.
Disappearing Messages in WhatsApp Delete Media
If disappearing messages are turned on, media sent in the chat will disappear indeed but it will be still be saved on your phone if auto-download option is turned on (Which is ON by default). You can turn auto-download off in WhatsApp Settings > Data and Storage Usage.
This feature is available on many other messaging services like WhatsApp’s direct competitors telegram and Signal. Disappearing messages became popular after the success of Snapchat. Snapchat is one of the first ever apps to have introduced this feature and many major social media platforms have started following the footsteps. WhatsApp might have been a little late to the party, but with the introduction of this new feature, it is clearly obvious that WhatsApp is stepping up their game.
Benefits of WhatsApp Self Destructing Messages
The way of communication has thoroughly changed in all these years. Social networking apps and instant messaging apps have made communication instant and easy. With the introduction of disappearing messages on all major platforms, the general public have started to feel a sense of security when it comes to using apps with such features. There are a few advantages of self-disappearing messages such as:
- Privacy. Self-destructing WhatsApp messages allow free discussion of confidential issues while at the same time reducing the risk of intentional / unintentional disclosure of confidential information. Companies and organizations that deal heavily in sensitive information such as hospitals, insurance companies, law firms, etc. would be less likely to suffer a data breach if they use this technology.
- Information Security. Disappearing messages can minimize the fallout after a data security incident. Self-destructing messages might even discourage hackers from attempting to compromise systems in the first place because because why to put in so much of effort when there are high chances that there will be no WhatsApp chat older then 7 days.
- Low Storage Consumption. Data storage is one of the main concerns of smartphone users all over the world. Even though smartphones nowadays offer huge amounts of storage there still exist phones with lower storage such as the older phones. With the advent of this feature, data can be erased without having to worry about constantly deleting data in old chats, thus conserving mobile storage.
With the growing public concern and outrage at government spying antics, it does appear to a certain extent that self-destructing / disappearing services are going to become very popular going forward. However, while self-destruct services will delete your confidential photos, chats, emails and other communication; they are not the answer for complete privacy. You still have to be cautious of ISPs that log your activity, malicious software that install on your devices and surveillance by various lawful bodies. Hackology blog is writing about User Privacy and Protection for over a decade now. It’s always good to keep reading about the latest trends in apps and their counter measures, so that you can always keep yourself protected. For those who want to test out this feature, you can always join the beta on Android and iPhone.
Some users may not wanna use this feature with their friends and families where they want to keep their chat history intact for years to come but for every other use, I would strongly recommend to turn Disappearing Messages feature in WhatsApp to On.