WhatsApp is adding new functionality to its disappearing messages feature, which lets users set messages in a chat to automatically be deleted after a set period of time. WhatsApp says users will now have the option to turn on disappearing messages automatically for all their new one-on-one chats, so that all future messages will be automatically deleted from the service.
The Meta-owned service, used by over 2 billion users globally, on Monday rolled out an option that allows users to enable the ephemeral feature by default for all new chats. Prior to Monday’s update, users had to manually enable ephemerality for each new chat with another individual.
WhatsApp is additionally also giving users the option to have their messages disappear after 24 hours or 90 days, in addition to the seven-day period it originally introduced the feature with last year.
WhatsApp notes that turning on disappearing messages by default won’t affect existing chats. When you start a new one-on-one chat, a notice will appear to say that the disappearing messages feature is turned on, alongside a note that says it’s on by default (so your contacts don’t think it’s anything personal). You also have the option of turning the setting off for individual chats.
Users can still bypass the disappearing protocol by forwarding the messages or taking a screenshot, but Meta suggested that it’s more of a non-tech problem: If the person you’re sending the messages to doesn’t wish to comply with your request, there is nothing much that can be done other than not communicating with them.