WhatsApp’s new privacy features make it easier for you to stay under the radar


Undoubtedly the most popular instant messaging app globally, the Meta-owned WhatsApp has announced a new set of privacy features that should add a layer of protection to chats and visibility. You as a user can now quietly exit groups, choose who can (and more importantly cannot) see you online and will have the ability to block others from taking screenshots of views-once messages.

“New privacy features coming to WhatsApp: exit group chats without notifying everyone, control who can see when you’re online, and prevent screenshots on view once messages. We’ll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations,” said Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Meta in a statement.

The new WhatsApp arsenal: Status, visibility and a quiet exit

The first of the three new updates that undoubtedly stands out, is the ability to hide your online status from contacts. This is the next iteration of a feature that was first made available in December, which allowed WhatsApp users to hide their online status from strangers. If you don’t want select contacts on WhatsApp to know whether you are online and busy in another conversation at the time (or are simply ignoring their messages), there will be the option to toggle the option on or off.

Till now, leaving groups was a fairly public activity, wherein every member of the group would be notified of your exit from a group. That may lead to inconvenient conversations later, about why you may have left a WhatsApp group. Now, only the group admins will be notified when a participant quietly exits a group.

The View Once messages are unique in the sense that they allow users to share a message or media which can be deleted after it has been seen by the recipient, with no trail left of that message. However, there was one loophole — a user could take a screenshot of the message before it disappeared.

The next update for the functionality will be able to block the ability to take screenshots on any phone, while a View Once message is still visible on the screen.

WhatsApp isn’t slowing down on updates

When will these features be rolled out? The timelines vary, according to Meta.

Later this month, the online status and group exit updates will be rolled out for all users, including on Android phones and the Apple iPhone. The View Once screenshot block feature, however, may take a little longer. “This feature is being tested and will be rolled out to users soon,” confirmed Meta.

WhatsApp has been on a feature addition spree this year. The highlights include the ability for Android users to switch chats lock, stock and barrel to a new iPhone, the option to speed up voice notes and expanding the scope of emoji reactions for messages after an initial rollout with limited reactions (something that was well received enough to warrant further attention).



  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    vishal mathur

    Vishal Mathur is Technology Editor for Hindustan Times. When not making sense of technology, he often searches for an elusive analog space in a digital world.
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