WhatsApp announced that they are providing users with more options to control their messages and how long they stick around, with default disappearing messages and multiple durations. This makes sense considering that WhatsApp introduced disappearing messages last year, and a way for photos and videos to immediately disappear after being viewed once.
WhatsApp users will now have the option to turn on disappearing messages by default for all new chats. When enabled, all new one-on-one chats you or another person start will be set to disappear at your chosen duration, and we’ve added a new option when creating a group chat that lets you turn it on for groups you create. This new feature does not change or delete any of your existing chats.
Two new durations for disappearing messages have been added: 24 hours and 90 days, as well as the existing option of 7 days. If you want to enable the new durations, or change the ones you have, go to Privacy and select “Default Message Timer”.
Based on WhatsApp’s blog post, it appears these decisions may have been influenced by the pandemic. The company wrote, “Living apart from family and friends for over a year has made it clearer than ever that just because we can’t physically talk in person, it doesn’t mean we should have to sacrifice the privacy of our personal conversations.”
The WhatsApp blog also states: “We believe disappearing messages along with end-to-end encryption are two crucial features that define what it means to be a private messaging service today, and bring us one step closer to the feeling of an in-personal conversation.”
The Verge pointed out that WhatsApp is owned by Meta (along with Facebook and Instagram). If you don’t currently use Facebook products, you might want to consider if you trust Meta enough to do the right thing with your data.