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Upcoming WhatsApp groups feature could be a potential lifesaver

Over the years, WhatsApp has added several features that help WhatsApp group administrators moderate their groups better. Some of these include restricting the ability of nonmembers to send messages to the group and banning unruly members. Now, it seems the Facebook-owned messaging client is working on another feature that has been on the wish list of several group admins.

According to WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is likely to give group admins the power to delete messages sent by other group members. To understand why this is such a big deal, it is important to know WhatsApp’s current restrictions with respect to group messages.

WhatsApp currently allows only the original sender of the message the ability to delete their messages. WhatsApp also doesn’t allow these messages to be deleted after a set amount of time has passed since they were sent — even by the original sender. The only option left for the sender then is to choose the “delete for me” option. This, however, only removes the message from their phone, while being visible to the rest of the group members.

This is all set to change in the future. A screenshot posted by WABetaInfo indicates that WhatsApp group admins will finally be able to delete messages posted by other members of the group.  The screenshot shows a text that reads: “This was deleted by an admin,” in place of the original message —  indicating that WhatsApp is in the early stages of testing this feature for some alpha testers.

A screenshot showing a new feature expected to roll out for WhatsApp group admins.

A potential lifesaver?

The addition of this feature — along with the existing set of content moderation tools — is likely to help WhatsApp shed its tag as being a hotbed of fake news.

Unchecked WhatsApp forwards have been blamed for several horrific incidents across the globe — particularly in India — where unchecked rumors have led to multiple cases of lynching and mob justice. The very fact that this feature has the potential to save lives is a good enough reason to roll out this feature as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, with the feature yet to make it to one of WhatsApp’s beta releases, we might have to wait a while before the ability to delete WhatsApp group messages finally arrives on a stable version of the app.

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Rahul Srinivas
Rahul is a smartphone buff turned tech journalist who has been tinkering with all things mobile since the early 2000s. He has…
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