WhatsApp announced on Dec. 6 that it expanded its privacy control features with the addition of default disappearing messages for all new chats.
“When enabled, all new one-on-one chats you or another person start will be set to disappear at your chosen duration, and we’ve added a new option when creating a group chat that lets you turn it on for groups you create,” WhatsApp said. “This new feature is optional and does not change or delete any of your existing chats.”
Along with the launch of default disappearing messages, the instant messaging company also announced that it added two new durations that allow new messages to instantly disappear in 24 hours or 90 days, as well as the existing option of 7 days.
WhatsApp said users can enable default disappearing messages for all new individual chats on iOS and Android by entering WhatsApp settings, tapping Account > Privacy > Default Message Timer. After those steps, users are given the option to select a duration for the message to disappear.
If users want to permanently have access to one of their chats in the future, however, they also have the option to switch back to standard chats where disappearing messages are disabled.
“For people who choose to switch on default disappearing messages, we will display a message in your chats that tells people this is the default you’ve chosen,” the company added.
“This makes clear it’s nothing personal – it’s a choice you’ve made about how you want to communicate with everyone on WhatsApp moving forward.”
WhatsApp also warned users that enabling disappearing messages still won’t protect them from being forwarded to others by malicious actors. Users’ information can still be saved (screenshotted or copied) before untrusted individuals are removed from the chat.
WhatsApp officially introduced the feature of disappearing messages in November. Initially, all new messages were automatically set to disappear after 7 days if the feature was toggled by a user in an individual conversation or by an admin in a group chat.
In October, the company also unveiled end-to-end encrypted chat backups on iOS and Android. This was meant to block anyone from accessing WhatsApp users’ chats, no matter where they are stored.
“We believe disappearing messages along with end-to-end encryption are two crucial features that define what it means to be a private messaging service today, and bring us one step closer to the feeling of an in-personal conversation,” WhatsApp concluded in its announcement.