When WhatsApp introduced the disappearing messages feature in November last year it wasn’t what people were expecting. Messages would delete themselves after seven days unless you backed the chat up or something was sent to you. You also couldn’t change the timeframe. So it was more of a convenience thing than a security thing before you start thinking you’re Deep Throat.
For an app that wants you to think it’s privacy-focused, there sure are a lot of workarounds to save something someone sent you that should be deleted by the feature. In a chat with the feature on, messages sent after the feature is enabled will be deleted unless they are forwarded out of the chat or are screengrabbed. WhatsApp doesn’t provide a notification when a screenshot is taken in its app and media sent and automatically downloaded won’t be deleted either. A few things to keep in mind if you want to send sensitive info.
Are WhatsApp’s baby steps too slow?
Of all the problems with the feature, WhatsApp has picked the (presumably) easiest one to fix, and it’s taken its sweet time to do it. Starting from whenever your device next updates the app, WhatsApp will allow users slightly more control over the default disappearing messages feature. It’s adding a 24-hour and 90-day timeframe to go with the original 7 days.
Additionally, you’ll be able to enable the feature by default for all new one-on-one chats. This won’t affect existing chats or group chats unless those group chats are created with the feature enabled.
According to WhatApp, the update to the feature is rolling out across all platforms now but it might take a bit for your devices to receive it.