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How WhatsApp disappearing messages will work

3 Nov 2020

WhatsApp has published details of its upcoming disappearing messages feature on its website.

This feature is currently under development and is expected to launch in the near future for the Android and iOS versions of WhatsApp, as well as for the desktop and web clients.

Once launched, WhatsApp users will be able to send messages that disappear after seven days.

“You can send messages that disappear on WhatsApp by enabling disappearing messages,” WhatsApp states on its support page.

“Once enabled, new messages sent in the individual or group chat will disappear after seven days.”

These disappearing messages will not affect any messages sent or received within the chat previously, and in individual chats, either user can turn disappearing messages on or off.

In group chats, only group admins may change this setting.

How it works

WhatsApp outlined the following cases for how disappearing messages are affected in certain situations:

  • If a user doesn’t open WhatsApp in the seven-day period, the message will disappear. However, the preview of the message might still be displayed in notifications until WhatsApp is opened.
  • When you reply to a message, the initial message is quoted. If you reply to a disappearing message, the quoted text might remain in the chat after seven days.
  • If a disappearing message is forwarded to a chat with disappearing messages off, the message won’t disappear in the forwarded chat.
  • If a user creates a backup before a message disappears, the disappearing message will be included in the backup. Disappearing messages will be deleted when a user restores from a backup.

WhatsApp also cautioned that users should only use disappearing messages with those they trust. For example, it is possible for somebody to forward or take a screenshot of a disappearing message before it expires.

They can also copy and save content from the disappearing message before it disappears, or they can take a photo of a disappearing message with another device.

WhatsApp said that by default, media you receive in WhatsApp is automatically downloaded to your photos.

This means that even if disappearing messages are turned on, media sent in the chat will disappear but it will remain saved on your phone if auto-download is turned on.

There is currently no confirmed release date for WhatsApp’s disappearing messages feature.

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