WhatsApp has been on a consistent path towards more features and improvements such as enhancing the functionality in group chats, giving group administrators more control, and making chats more interactive. To further its efforts and double down on its commitment to user privacy, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced three specific privacy-centric WhatsApp features In August this year — quiet exits from group chats, blocking screenshots of view-once media, and hiding your online status. We’re now learning of some good progress for one of these features.
Beta testers tell WABetaInfo they’ve received online status-related privacy options following the WhatsApp version 220.127.116.11 update on Android. The feature was spotted in development on iOS in July, followed by testing on Android later in the same month.
In the latest beta, the settings give you granular control over who can see when you’re online and when you last checked WhatsApp. Under WhatsApp Settings > Account > Privacy > Last seen and online, you can pick from four options for who can see your Last seen status — everyone, my contacts, my contacts (except selected ones), and nobody.
For your online status visibility on the app, you can mirror the setting for your Last seen status above, or just use the Everyone option, so anyone in a chat will see when you’re online. It’s thoughtful of WhatsApp to separate the controls for Last seen, but we would have preferred independent granular controls for the online status too. WhatsApp cautions you that hiding your online and Last seen status would mean you won’t see others’ status either, just like hiding your read receipts from others deprives you of the blue tick marks.
Of course, we leave it up to you to consider if browsing around WhatsApp in ghost mode all the time is a good idea. Use your imagination.
WABetaInfo says the new beta feature is rolling out to testers in a phased manner. Besides version 18.104.22.168, version 22.214.171.124 beta also seems to contain these features. No word on if and when they will go global on the stable app.