WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature that allows you to elect to have messages disappear from a chat after seven days…

Other messaging apps have a similar feature. However, critics have said that WhatsApp’s latest offering lacks some of the flexibility that other apps allow. For example, you can’t decide on a time range for disappearing messages.

One of the other shortfalls is that media sent along with a disappearing message may be saved in the phone’s memory. WhatsApp also doesn’t notify the user if screenshots are taken of the message – which is a feature on some other messaging apps.

Why have disappearing messages in the first place?

App developers tout this as a ‘privacy’ feature.

Useful if you’re a spy, a bullying teen, or engaging in infidelity. Or if you’re tired of messages taking up space on your phone.

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According to WhatsApp, once the feature is enabled, new messages sent in an individual or group chat will disappear after seven days. However, the feature must be enabled with each chat, it is not enabled across the board.

The setting will also not affect messages that were sent previously.

In an individual chat, either user can turn disappearing messages on or off. In a group chat, only group admins can turn disappearing messages on or off.

Here’s the technical side:

  • If a user doesn’t open WhatsApp in the seven-day period, the message will disappear. However, the preview of the message might still be displayed in notifications until WhatsApp is opened.
  • When you reply to a message, the initial message is quoted. If you reply to a disappearing message, the quoted text might remain in the chat after seven days.
  • If a disappearing message is forwarded to a chat with disappearing messages off, the message won’t disappear in the forwarded chat.
  • If a user creates a backup before a message disappears, the disappearing message will be included in the backup. Disappearing messages will be deleted when a user restores from a backup.
  • By default, media you receive in WhatsApp will be automatically downloaded to your photos. If disappearing messages are turned on, media sent in the chat will disappear, but will be saved on the phone if auto-download is on. You can turn auto-download off in WhatsApp Settings > Data and Storage Usage.

Remember that people you send messages to can still:

  • Forward or take a screenshot of a disappearing message and save it before it disappears.
  • Copy and save content from the disappearing message before it disappears.
  • Take a photo of a disappearing message with a camera or other device before it disappears.

How to enable Disappearing Messages on your WhatsApp:

Once the feature has been rolled out to all users, you will be able to enable Disappearing Messages in your WhatsApp chats.

Simply:

  1. Open the WhatsApp chat.
  2. Tap the contact’s name.
  3. Tap Disappearing messages.
    • If prompted, tap CONTINUE.
  4. Select On.

If you want to disable the disappearing messages, select Off.

 

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