WhatsApp users will be able to choose who can see if they are online, leave group chats without notifying other members, and prevent screenshots of ‘view once’ messages, the Meta-owned platform said on Tuesday.
The new WhatsApp features “provide users more privacy, more protection, and more control,” said Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Meta Platforms, which also owns Facebook. The features start rolling out to all users this month.
“We’ll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.
“Seeing when friends or family are online helps users feel connected to one another, but everyone has had times when they wanted to check their WhatsApp privately. For the times you want to keep your online presence private, WhatsApp is introducing the ability to select who can and can’t see when you’re online,” the company said in a statement.
The messaging app said a privacy study found the majority of users prefer to stay hidden online. “72% of people said they value being able to speak in an honest, unfiltered way — but more than 47% are only comfortable doing this in a safe, private space,” the study found.
It added that around 72 per cent of people said they value being able to speak in an honest, unfiltered way — but more than 47% per cent are only comfortable doing this in a safe, private space. “They are particularly cautious online, ranking privacy in their private messages as most important — compared to emails, texts or social media.”
To address these concerns, WhatsApp will enable screenshot blocking for ‘view once messages’ adding a layer of protection. Users will be able to exit a group privately without having to notify everyone. Instead of notifying the full group when leaving, only the admins will be notified when a member leaves the group.
“At WhatsApp, we’re focused on building product features that empower people to have more control and privacy over their messages,” said Ami Vora, head of product at WhatsApp.
“To spread the word about these new features, we’re also kicking off a global campaign, starting with the UK and India, to educate people about how we work to protect their private conversations on WhatsApp,” Vora said.