The “disappearing messages” function on WhatsApp will soon have further customization options, including the ability to set it as the default setting for all of your contacts.
Ephemeral messaging was first made available to WhatsApp users worldwide approximately one year ago. However, you had to manually switch it on for each contact by tapping the person’s name and then turning on the “message timer.” WhatsApp could then automatically delete the messages after a period of 7 days, but it could only do so for that one contact at a time. The new technology, which is already being rolled out, makes it simple to extend the functionality of disappearing messages to all of your chats.
“When enabled, all new one-on-one chats you or another person start will be set to disappear at your chosen duration,” WhatsApp wrote in a blog post on Monday. “We’ve also added a new option when creating a group chat that lets you turn it on for groups you create,” the company added. “We’ve also added a new option when creating a group chat that lets you turn it on for groups you create.”
If you enable the function that is set as the default, WhatsApp will also display a message that is visible in all of your chats to tell your contacts about the change. According to an update provided to the application, “This makes clear that it’s nothing personal—a it’s choice you’ve made about how you want to connect with everyone on WhatsApp moving ahead.”
Users of smartphones running Android or iOS can activate the default function by going to WhatsApp Settings, tapping Account, then Privacy, then Default message timer, and selecting a duration from the drop-down menu. By selecting the contact’s name within the application, users have the additional option of turning off the function that makes messages disappear after being read.
The other enhancement that WhatsApp has implemented is the addition of two new time length options for users to choose from when it comes to the expiration of their messages: either 24 hours or 90 days.
The messaging service is increasing the number of options available, claiming the need to preserve the privacy of its users. WhatsApp noted that the decision of how long a message remains should be in the user’s control. “We have grown accustomed to automatically saving a digital duplicate of virtually everything we type without even giving it a second thought. It is now the same as having a note taker follow us about and make a permanent record of all that we have said.
Nevertheless, it is essential to keep in mind that the disappearing messages will not alter or destroy any of the earlier chats. Neither is the system completely foolproof; for instance, a contact can always snap a screenshot of any messages you send to them at any time.
“If a disappearing message is forwarded to a chat with disappearing messages off, the message will not disappear in the forwarded chat,” WhatsApp says. “This only applies if the disappearing messages feature is turned on in the original chat.” When someone responds to a message that is set to disappear, that message will remain visible for a longer period of time.
In addition to sending texts that vanish after they have been read, users can also transmit “view-once” images and movies that vanish after they have been viewed.