WhatsApp has officially announced that it will be introducing a new ‘Disappearing Messages’ feature through an update that rolls out globally this month. Disappearing or ephemeral messaging has become a popular feature on social networks like Snapchat and privacy-focused communication apps like Signal, Telegram, and Wire.
The ‘Disappearing Messages’ feature on WhatsApp is also different from how it works on Telegram. While Telegram lets users decide the duration before the messages disappear in a chat, messages sent to a chat on WhatsApp will disappear after seven days. Snapchat, on the other hand, deletes Snaps after they’ve been opened, deletes unopened Snaps sent to a group chat in 24 hours, and all other unopened Snaps in 30 days.
WhatsApp noted that not all messages or media may disappear entirely.
Previews of messages may stick around in notifications, for instance, and messages that are forwarded or replied to will be treated as new messages that may never be deleted. Since WhatsApp stores media into the phone by default, pictures and video that are sent might go straight into a person’s camera roll and so it is not possible to delete those. Disappearing messages will also land in user backups but will be deleted after the user restores messages from it.
To turn on disappearing messages in WhatsApp on Android or iOS devices, tap on a contact’s name and then tap disappearing messages. You can then tap Continue when prompted to select On. Follow those same steps when you want to turn the setting off.