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Strangers can no longer see your ‘last seen’ status on WhatsApp, and we are ever so thankful

Strangers can no longer see your ‘last seen’ status on WhatsApp, and we are ever so thankful

There are many ways to stalk a person, and on WhatsApp, the ‘last seen’ status was one of them.

Keeping the strangers away (Photo: Twitter) Keeping the strangers away (Photo: Twitter)

Stalkers work in a lot of ways, and physical stalking is just one of them. In this day and age, stalking someone virtually (including slipping in a Bluetooth tracker) is dangerously easy and there is often very little that can be done to stop it. One of the most popular messaging apps in the world, WhatsApp, has added a new privacy measure that at least returns some agency to the user and prevents them from being tracked by strangers.

The new WhatsApp feature hides your “last seen” status from people you have never spoken to or know on the app. Earlier, the “last seen” status visibility was set on default for “Everyone” and this allowed anyone on WhatsApp to see your status. The other option was to turn on the “Nobody”, or “My Contacts” for “last seen” status visibility which lead to the status being hidden from your contacts as well.

WhatsApp’s new update limits the visibility of the “last seen” status to your contacts on the platform and the default setting is now set to “My Contacts” instead of “Everyone” as it previously was.

A Twitter user explained in a post that you might not be able to see other people’s statuses on the platform anymore and attached an email from WhatsApp Support that explains the new update.

“We’re making it harder for people you don’t know and haven’t chatted with from seeing your last seen and online presence on WhatsApp,” the post reads.

Just to make it clear, the “My Contacts” option for the “last seen” status on WhatsApp was always available, but it was not a default option. One would have to manually make that setting change. There is also the “Nobody” option for this “last seen” status on the platform as we mentioned earlier.

The “last seen” status on WhatsApp, for those who can see it, lets them know the last time you were online on the platform. It also lets them know if you are currently online. While, on the surface, this is a pretty harmless way of knowing if a person you are texting is online to be able to reply to your texts, but it has been exploited by third-party apps.

These third-party apps can aggregate the statuses of some users and this allows some people (those looking to stalk you or monitor your online actions” to keep a tab on you. The new feature turns on the “My Contacts” option by default and this prevents third-party apps from being able to see or get access to your “last seen” status, since an app is not a contact.

The option to turn it off for everyone still remains and has to be manually turned on.

This latest update follows the change that WhatsApp has been working on. WABetaInfo found out in November this year that the messaging platform was testing an option called “My Contacts Except…” - a feature that allows users to hide their “last seen” from certain contacts.

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Published on: Dec 16, 2021, 3:55 PM IST
Posted by: Jhinuk Sen, Dec 16, 2021, 3:48 PM IST