Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp on Thursday announced a new feature to its platform that allows users to send messages that will disappear after seven days. The company said the option will be rolled out globally this month.
“Our goal is to make conversations on WhatsApp feel as close to in-person as possible, which means they shouldn’t have to stick around forever,” the company said in a statement. “That’s why we’re excited to introduce the option to use disappearing messages on WhatsApp.”
Users can enable the disappearing messages feature in individual chats on WhatsApp, whereas only administrators can turn the feature on or off in groups. When enabled, new messages sent to individuals or groups will disappear after seven days.
“We’re starting with 7 days because we think it offers peace of mind that conversations aren’t permanent, while remaining practical so you don’t forget what you were chatting about,” the statement said.
The company clarified that the new feature would not affect older messages, which have been sent or received prior to enabling the setting. It added that if the feature is enabled, media received on the user’s phones will also be automatically deleted. However, the media will be stored on the phone if auto-download is on.
It further said that messages will disappear after seven days even if the user does not access WhatsApp. However, a preview of the message will be shown when the user accesses the application.
Besides, if WhatsApp users reply to a disappearing message, the quoted text might remain in the chat after seven days. If users create a backup, these messages will be saved there, but will be deleted when a user restores from a backup.
The company cautioned people to use the feature with trusted individuals as it is possible for users to copy, save or take screenshots of the disappearing message and save it before it vanishes.
To enable the new setting on Android or iPhones, users can tap on an individual’s name and then select the “disappearing messages” feature to turn it on or off. The same process is to be followed for group chats. For KaiOS operating system, users will need to open “options” and then select “view contact”. The users will then have to select the “disappearing messages” feature, select “edit” and enable or disable the feature. For group chats in KaiOS, users will have to select “group info” instead of “view contact”.
This comes at a time when WhatsApp chats of some Bollywood actors were leaked into the public domain amid investigation into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The Narcotics Control Bureau, one of the central agencies investigating the case, had on September 23 issued summons to actors Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh based on the leaked conversations purportedly discussing drugs.
The following day, WhatsApp had clarified that messages shared on the platform are end-to-end encrypted and can be seen only by the sender and receiver and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp.