WhatsApp rolls out ‘Disappearing Messages’ to remove chats after 7 days

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The 'disappearing feature' will be available globally by the end November

The popular messaging app WhatsApp has officially announced that a new ‘Disappearing Messages’ feature will be implemented in an update rolling out globally this month.

However, the specifics of the new feature have been out since earlier this week after a WhatsApp-created FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page was noticed. Last month, the long-anticipated ephemeral message feature pioneered by Snapchat was first spotted in a WhatsApp’s beta (trial) edition. This will allow users to enable an individual and group chat option that will delete new messages after seven days.

Disappearing messages have started rolling out today and will be available by the end of this month on devices based on Android, iOS and Linux-based KaiOS, along with WhatsApp Web and Desktop platforms. WhatsApp had previously detailed how to enable/disable the latest ‘Disappearing Messages’ feature on various devices and published FAQs on a help page regarding its usage.

On WhatsApp, the ‘Disappearing Messages’ feature varies from how it functions on Telegram. Although Telegram allows users to determine the time before the messages disappear in a conversation, messages sent to a WhatsApp chat will definitely disappear after 7 days. On the other hand, Snapchat deletes Snaps after opening or deletes unopened snaps sent to a group chat within 24 hours and deletes all other unopened Snaps within 30 days.

“We’re starting with 7 days because we think it offers peace of mind that conversations aren’t permanent while remaining practical so you don’t forget what you were chatting about. The shopping list or store address you received a few days ago will be there while you need it and then disappear after you don’t,” the company said in a statement.

What does not get deleted?

For each chat window of individual or group conversations, the Disappearing Messages function has to be activated separately and can be accessed by clicking on the name of the individual contact or group on WhatsApp. When enabled, new messages sent by a user will disappear after seven days for the selected contacts. However, disappearing messages forwarded to a new chat window that has the option switched off will not be deleted. And when a user replies to a disappearing message, even after seven days, the quoted text can still remain in the conversation.

Also, users who receive the texts can still copy the text within seven days and take screenshots of the messages. Messages that disappear will also land in user backups, but will be removed after messages are restored by the user. Since there are several ways to retain shared chats even in disappearing messages, it seems more like an option to clear up conversations than a feature to share information that deletes automatically.

Among messaging apps, apart from Telegram and now WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger also has a vanish mode.