WhatsApp finally released the much-anticipated “Disappearing Messages” feature on Thursday after offering a preview into how the feature would function once rolled out, with a time limit of seven days before the message is automatically deleted.
The functionality is available for both individual and group chats. In group chats, however, group administrators may be able to allow messages to vanish.
The Disappearing Messages function is now official and will be rolled out during this month to its 2-billion plus users.
The Facebook-owned company said the aim is “to make WhatsApp conversations feel as close as possible to each other, which means they shouldn’t have to stick around forever.”
“That’s why we’re excited to add the option to use WhatsApp disappearing messages. When the ‘messages disappearing’ function is enabled, after 7 days, new messages sent to a chat will vanish, making the conversation feel lighter and more private,” it said in a statement.
“We’re beginning with seven days because we agree that it provides peace of mind that discussions are not irreversible while staying realistic so that you don’t forget what you’re talking about. The shopping list or store address you got a few days ago will be there while you need it, and after you don’t, it will vanish.”
The Disappearing Messages functionality will be available by the end of this month on all WhatsApp-supported devices, including KaiOS devices based on Android, iOS, and Linux, along with the WhatsApp Site and Desktop platforms
For each chat channel, person, or group conversations, the ‘Disappearing Messages’ feature has to be activated separately and can be accessed by clicking on the name of the individual contact or the group on WhatsApp. When enabled, new user-sent messages will disappear after seven days for the selected contacts. However, before WhatsApp is opened on the receiving devices, the preview of disappearing messages can appear in notifications. Disappearing messages forwarded to a new chat window that has the option switched off will also not be deleted. And when a user answers a disappearing message, after seven days, the quoted text can remain in the conversation.
Also, users who receive the texts can still copy the text within seven days and take screenshots of the messages. Messages that disappear will also land in user backups but will be deleted after messages are restored by the user. Since there are several ways to maintain shared chats by disappearing messages, it seems more like a choice to clear up conversations than an automatically deleted information sharing feature.
In addition to Snapchat, Telegram, and now WhatsApp, Signal, and also Facebook Messenger, which now has a vanishing mode, are other messaging apps with similar functionality.