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WhatsApp may soon let you send disappearing messages in private chats

WhatsApp may, at long last, add a feature most of its rivals have been offering for ages. The Facebook-owned messaging service is reportedly trialing a new option that will let you send self-destructing messages in private conversations.

Spotted by WABetaInfo, which reverse-engineers WhatsApp clients to unearth unannounced functions, the messaging app’s latest Android beta comes with a hidden “Delete messages” setting. It allows you to set a blanket expiration timer for all of your messages in a one-on-one personal chat. Once activated, each of your sent messages in that conversation will vanish some time after the recipient has read it. You can have them gone as quickly as an hour or up to a year.

Since the new option applies to every message of a chat, it’s unclear how WhatsApp plans to promote it. Most of its competitors such as Telegram offer the ability to fire up separate “secret” ephemeral chats that don’t affect your existing conversations with a contact. WhatsApp’s implementation, at least in its current early-stage form, also lacks a way to share messages that delete immediately after the other person has read or viewed it — similar to what its sister platforms such as Instagram already offer.

In addition to private chats, WhatsApp is expected to bring this toggle for groups, too. However, we don’t know when it will roll out to the masses. Since it’s not even yet turned on for public beta users, it’s likely that the new update will take a minimum month or two before becoming broadly available. WABetaInfo didn’t comment on whether WhatsApp is testing it for its iOS clients as well.

To be first in line to try it out, you can sign up for the Android beta channel by heading over to this link. The iOS TestFlight channel for WhatsApp generally tends to be full. Although you can keep an eye on this page to know when new slots open up.

Other than self-destructing messages for private conversations, WhatsApp is also testing password-protected chat backups. Plus, the messaging platform recently publicly rolled out a dark theme for its Android and iOS apps.

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Shubham Agarwal
Shubham Agarwal is a freelance technology journalist from Ahmedabad, India. His work has previously appeared in Firstpost…
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