WhatsApp has changed the way its disappearing messages feature works within its app by allowing self-destruct messages to apply to all chats by default.
As anticipated earlier this year, users can now make ephemeral chats the global default for all their messages, with a time limit to choose from when messages are automatically deleted: 24 hours, seven days, or 90 days. .
WhatsApp paints this as a way of allowing people to spontaneously live in the moment, without feeling protected or worrying about leaving a written or audio record of their thoughts and feelings.
“As more of our conversations shift face-to-face to digital, we recognize that there is a certain magic in simply sitting down with someone in person, sharing your thoughts in confidence, knowing that the two of you are connecting privately and in that moment. ”The company wrote in a blog post announcing the change.
It’s also about privacy, with the publication lamenting how “we’ve gotten used to leaving a digital copy of almost everything we write without even thinking about it.”
It is still optional, so those who prefer to keep track of their chats to find old links etc. will not be affected. It’s also worth noting that even if you enable this for all chats, it won’t work retrospectively – anything said before the setting is enabled won’t automatically be erased from existence.
As this is a radical change in the way WhatsApp works, the company has configured it so that your contacts are informed of your choice when you start a new conversation with messages that disappear enabled. “This makes it clear that it is nothing personal: it is a choice you have made about how you want to communicate with everyone on WhatsApp in the future,” the post explains.
The feature can also be enabled for group chats when they’re first set up, though it’s worth remembering that when it comes to privacy measures, this isn’t foolproof. Messages can still be forwarded or screenshots taken for posterity.
But if you are in communication with people who would go against your expressed wishes in that way, then you probably have bigger problems that cannot be solved with technology, no matter how well-intentioned they may be.