WhatsApp has offered disappearing messages for a while now, but a brand new update enables users to set all new chats to disappear by default.
The update, announced by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, will allow users to set their messages to disappear after a pre-set time frame.
Users may feel the feature offers them peace of mind and help and guard against older messages becoming a point of contention at an unknown time in the future.
There are multiple durations you can set, including 24 hours, 7 days or 90 days. By default the feature is set to off. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like you can do this with older chats, only for new conversations and only for one-on-one chats
“We’re rolling out a new disappearing messages option on WhatsApp today so you’ll be able to make all new chats disappearing by default after 24 hours, 7 days, or 90 days. Not all messages need to stick around forever,” Zuckerberg said.
In a blog post the company explains that a notification will appear at the top of the chat explaining that the messages are set to disappear.
The company writes: “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. 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. Though of course, if you need a particular conversation to remain permanent, it’s easy to switch a chat back.”
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In an FAQ published on the WhatsApp website, the company says the disappearing messages settings will work whether or not the chat is opened within the set time period. However, previews for unopened messages may still appear until the notifications is opened.
Quoted messages may remain in the chat after the original message disappears from the chat, as will messages that are forwarded to another chat. If you’re backing up your messages before the time period has elapsed, said message will appear in the back-up. If you use the back-up to restore messages, only then will it be deleted.
The Meta-owed messaging app is asking users to only use this feature when conversing with trusted individuals, warning people can still take screenshots and save messages before they disappear, as well as copy and save content, or take a photo of the message on a device.