WhatsApp has offered users the option to delete messages for everyone which is a potential lifesaver if you accidentally sent a wrong text to the wrong person. However, if you want your messages to disappear automatically, WhatsApp has finally rolled out its Disappearing Messages feature to all users on both Android and iOS.
At the moment, the feature allows you to make your messages disappear after 7 days and you can enable this on specific chats including individual and group chats (if you’re an admin).
To enable this, just enter a chat and go to the Group Info by tapping the name of the group or person at the top of the screen. You should find a new “Disappearing Messages” option above the “Encryption” settings.
Disappearing Messages on WhatsApp for Android
At the moment, there’s only a single on/off toggle and this will make new messages in the chat to disappear after 7 days. For clarity, WhatsApp says that this won’t stop people from saving the message elsewhere. Other users can still copy, screenshot or forward the message to someone else which will be kept permanently.
According to the FAQ, the message will also disappear if someone doesn’t open WhatsApp in the 7 day period. However, if someone replies to a message, the quoted text might still remain even after the 7 day period.
Disappearing Messages on WhatsApp for iOS
If a user performs a backup before the 7th day, the messages will be backed up as well. However, if the message is more than 7 days old, WhatsApp says that it will be deleted automatically when the chat history is restored.
When it comes to pictures and videos, the attached media will also disappear from the chat. However, it will still be saved on the phone if the recipient enables auto-download.
Unfortunately, there’s no option for you to change the auto-disappear duration. When the disappearing messages feature was spotted in a beta release last year, there were options to change it to as short as 1 hour, 1 day or as long as 1 month and 1 year.
If you’re dealing with sensitive information, it is still best to delete the message immediately. Or better yet, don’t share it on WhatsApp and use other instant messaging platforms such as Telegram that has a more sophisticated secret chat with a flexible self-destruct timer.