WhatsApp's new feature improves privacy but could make lunch plans harder

Users can opt to have messages disappear for all new chats

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature that lets users make disappearing messages the default setting for all new chats on the messaging platform. WhatsApp says it will now enable users to toggle on disappearing messages for all new chats if they so choose. Once activated, all messages in these chats will be automatically deleted on the end-to-end encrypted messenger – something that could be problematic if you've forgotten what your lunch plans were and the messages have been wiped.

WhatsApp first launched its disappearing messages feature in November 2020, enabling photos, messages, and in-app videos to be stamped to disappear after a week. Now the app is taking things further, with the latest evolution of the feature set to let all new messages disappear automatically by default if a user opts-in.

Naturally, the news has caused controversy amongst individuals concerned that the feature will help enable bad actors to misuse the platform, while the other camp believes that it's a necessary step in shoring up the app's privacy credentials. Earlier this year, WhatsApp lost millions of users to rival apps after its data-mining practices came under attack.

Mark Zuckerberg, boss of WhatsApp's parent, Meta, is of course a fan of the beefed-up disappearing messages. He said: “Not all messages need to stick around forever,” with the official WhatsApp blog adding: “There is a certain magic in just sitting down with someone in person, sharing your thoughts in confidence, knowing you are both connecting in private and in that moment."

Duration settings

WhatsApp is also introducing two separate time windows for the time it takes for the messages to disappear: 90 days and 24 hours before they expire, as well as the default option of 7 days. Those of you concerned with forgetting plans that were agreed over WhatsApp should hope that your friend or relative hasn't toggled on the 24-hour expiration option, else you may find yourself caught short.

Disappearing messages by default can be switched on for all new one-to-one chats by heading to Settings and then tapping Account. Once here, users need to select Privacy, where they can then choose the Default message timer. The feature doesn't delete or change any of your existing conversations, with the new settings only applying to new individual chats on the best iPhone and best Android phones

Luke Wilson

Luke is a former news writer at T3 who covered all things tech at T3. Disc golf enthusiast, keen jogger, and fond of all things outdoors (when not indoors messing around with gadgets), Luke wrote about a wide-array of subjects for T3.com, including Android Auto, WhatsApp, Sky, Virgin Media, Amazon Kindle, Windows 11, Chromebooks, iPhones and much more, too.