- Liv McMahon
- Technology journalist
Meta announces new privacy features for WhatsApp users.
Users will be able to silently leave group chats, control who can see their online status, and block screenshots on View Once messages.
Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said it would help keep WhatsApp messaging “as private and secure as face-to-face conversations”.
The company will start rolling out these features this month, highlighting them in a global campaign, starting with the UK.
leave in silence
The popular messaging app currently notifies all members of a group chat by default when someone leaves or is removed.
While it is possible to disable this feature for individual group chats, users are not presented with the silent leave option when they choose to “leave group”, which is sometimes annoying, d embarrassment or drama for those who attempt to leave unnoticed.
Now they will be able to leave the group without notifying other users, but only group admins.
Ami Vora, product manager, said it was part of the platform’s goal to “build product features that allow people to have more control and privacy over their messages.”
“We believe WhatsApp is the safest place to have a private conversation,” she said.
“No other global messaging service on this scale provides this level of security for their users’ messages, media, voicemails, video calls and chat backups.”
Users will also have the option to only allow certain contacts – or people – to be seen when they’re active on the platform, bringing online status options in line with “last seen” settings.
Janis Wong, a research associate at the Alan Turing Institute, told BBC News: “It’s always good to give users more control – users love and need to have more control.”
But unless users are encouraged to use the features or fully aware of them in the app, their impact could be limited.
“If it’s not by default, or if users aren’t prompted to reconsider their options, then it’s not necessarily very useful, if users aren’t aware that it’s something they can do,” she added.