WhatsApp disappearing messages are going to roll out to users soon, judging by a newly published FAQ page. The new feature, which was initially spotted in October last year, will let users make their messages disappear from chats after seven days. WhatsApp will bring disappearing messages to both individual chats and group conversations. However, the feature won’t work for forwarded messages. WhatsApp will also not prevent users from copying and saving the content from the disappearing messages.
The details available on the FAQ page, which were first spotted by WhatsApp beta tracker WABetaInfo, shows that WhatsApp’s disappearing messages feature will be restricted to a seven-day period. Users won’t have the option to customise the interval for disappearing messages from their end, unlike on competing services like Telegram. It is also unlike the initial version of the feature that surfaced last year on a public beta release of WhatsApp for Android. That version had specific time intervals for making a particular message disappear.
WhatsApp has noted that the new feature won’t affect messages you previously sent or received on the instant messaging app. Also, in case a user doesn’t open WhatsApp within the seven-day period, the preview of the disappearing message may also still be displayed in notifications until the app is opened. However, the message won’t be available in the chat.
Although WhatsApp is aiming to add self-destruction with the disappearing messages feature, it will still make a disappearing message appear in case of forwarded chats. “If a disappearing message is forwarded to a chat with disappearing messages off, the message won’t disappear in the forwarded chat,” the company said on the FAQ page.
WhatsApp also mentioned that disappearing messages will be a part of its backups. However, those messages will be deleted when a user restores from a backup.
When you send a disappearing message, the recipient could forward it or take a screen of those messages, or even copy or save its content before disappearance. WhatsApp has, therefore, recommended users to use the disappearing messages feature only with trusted individuals. The FAQ also noted that if the disappearing option is enabled, media sent in a chat thread will disappear. It is something that was spotted in detail last month. The recipient would, however, be able to save the media content on their phone if auto-download is enabled.
In addition to the FAQ page detailing disappearing messages, WhatsApp has created some dedicated pages on its site providing step-by-step instructions on how to enable the new feature on Android, iPhone, and KaiOS as well as Web and Desktop for both individual messages and group chats. It is, however, yet to be available to users.
How to enable or disable disappearing messages in WhatsApp
Once the feature is rolled out to users, you will be able to turn disappearing messages on or off using the following steps:
- Open the WhatsApp chat and then tap the contact’s name for whom you want to turn on or off the disappearing messages feature.
- Now, tap the Disappearing Messages option.
- If prompted, tap Continue.
- Select On/ Off as required.
To turn the feature on or off in a group chat, the steps are the same, but instead of tapping on the contact’s name, you’d be tapping on the group’s name.
Gadgets 360 has reached out to WhatsApp for clarity on the rollout of the disappearing messages feature and will update this space when the company responds.
Competing messaging apps including Telegram and Signal have a disappearing messaging option in place for quite some time. They also let users decide when their messages should disappear — something unlike WhatsApp. Late last month, WhatsApp parent Facebook also updated its Messenger app with a vanish mode that would allow users to make their messages disappear after a certain time.
In 2020, will WhatsApp get the killer feature that every Indian is waiting for? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.