WhatsApp is internally testing a new feature that will automatically delete messages from a chat after a certain period of time.
The feature, spotted by WABetaInfo, isn’t available even within beta versions of the app yet, but points to being able to set messages to self destruct after a certain period of time.
According to the site, which scours in-development versions of the app for hints of new features, users will be able to set messages to disappear in five seconds or in an hour. After they’re gone there’ll be no trace of the message within the group chat moving forward.
It would make sense if the clock starts on the five seconds or one hour time period after the message is read by all parties, but that is also unclear.
Right now, those appear to be the only options available, and they can only be utilised within group chats. It’s possible the company may add more options, such as private chats, as development continues.
The report says there’s currently no ETA on a roll out on the feature, which the site says is at an alpha stage of development.
WhatsApp had previously added the ability to unsend a message, and recently extended the ability to do so until over an hour after it was sent. We’ll keep you posted as to when the feature becomes usable within the beta. The company has long resisted pressure to add the ability to edit messages, but continues to add features that limit the exposure of unfortunate texts.
Given how things can often get a little out of hand in group chats, we’d say the addition of this feature is not a bad thing at all. The company is also likely to consider this forthcoming feature as an aid in its fight against the spread of fake news. If the message self destructs, there’ll be no ability to forward it.