Facebook-owned cross-platform messaging application WhatsApp has started rolling out the disappearing messages feature for users.
"When disappearing messages is turned on, new messages sent to a chat will disappear after 7 days, helping the conversation feel lighter and more private," said WhatsApp in a statement.
The messaging app's arch-rival Snapchat already has a feature which automatically deletes most messages once they've been viewed or expired. Disappearing messages were even one of Snapchat's most popular features.
The company said that this will help users experience a new level of privacy. "In a one-to-one chat, either person can turn disappearing messages on or off. In a group chat, only group admins can turn disappearing messages on or off," it added.
"We're starting with seven days because we think it offers peace of mind that conversations aren't permanent while remaining practical so you don't forget what you were chatting about. The shopping list or store address you received a few days ago will be there while you need it, and then disappear after by our don't," WhatsApp added.
However, users will still be able to take a screenshot or forward a disappearing message before it disappears. They can also copy, save or take a photo of the message before it disappears.
Here's all you need to know about WhatsApp's disappearing messages:
One can send messages that disappear on WhatsApp by enabling disappearing messages. Once enabled, new messages sent in the individual or group chat will disappear after seven days. The most recent selection controls all messages in the chat and won't affect previously sent or received messages in the chat.
- If a user doesn't open WhatsApp in the seven days, the message will disappear. However, the preview of the message might still be displayed in notifications until WhatsApp is opened.
- When one replies to a message on WhatsApp, the initial message is quoted, but if a user replies to the disappearing message, the quoted text might remain in the chat even after seven days.
- Additionally, if a disappearing message is forwarded to a chat with disappearing messages option turned off, the message won't disappear in the forwarded chat.
- If a user creates a backup before a message disappears, the disappearing message will also be included in the backup and will be deleted when a user restores from a backup.
However, WhatsApp still notifies its users to only use disappearing messages with trusted individuals as it's still possible for someone to:
- Forward or take a screenshot of a disappearing message and save it before it disappears.
- Copy and save content from the disappearing message before it disappears.
- Take a photo of a disappearing message with a camera or other device before it disappears.
Media in disappearing messages
The media you receive in WhatsApp will be automatically downloaded to your photos by default. The media sent in the chat will disappear if the disappearing messages option is turned on, but will still be saved on the device if auto-download is on. One can turn auto-download off in WhatsApp Settings > Data and Storage Usage.