Free messaging and video calling app, WhatsApp, has announced new privacy features, including feature that can enable users to leave groups silently as well as choose who can see when they are online.
WhatsApp will also block taking screenshots for ‘view once’ messages.
In a press statement released on Tuesday, the founder and CEO of the parent company, Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, said, “New privacy features will be coming to WhatsApp and the features include exit group chats without notifying everyone, control who can see when you are online, and prevent screenshots on view once messages. We will keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.”
With the ‘Leave Groups Silently’ features, WhatsApp users will be able to exit a group privately without having to notify everyone. Also, instead of notifying the full group when leaving, only the admins will be notified. This feature will start rolling out to all users this month.
“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. This feature will start rolling out to all users this month,” WhatsApp said in the statement.
WhatsApp noted that the instant messaging application will now block taking screenshots for ‘View Once Messages’, adding that, ‘View Once’ is already an incredibly popular way to share photos or media that don’t need to have a permanent digital record.
“Now WhatsApp is enabling screenshot blocking for View Once messages for an added layer of protection. This feature is being tested and will be rolled out to users soon,” it explained.
The introduction of these new features are backed by a new WhatsApp privacy study which found that 72 per cent of people 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.
“For the times when you need more privacy, 51 per cent prefer to stay hidden online to choose who they want to talk to. 91 per cent of people who are aware of blocking features believe they are important. That is why WhatsApp is introducing new layers of protection that enable users to speak freely and have private conversations,” the company said.
To spread awareness about the new features, Whatsapp will also kick off a new campaign to educate people, starting with the United Kingdom and India.
Head of Product at WhatsApp, Ami Vora, said, “At WhatsApp, we are focused on building product features that empower people to have more control and privacy over their messages. Over the years, we have added interlocking layers of protection to help keep their conversations secure, and the new features is one way we continue to deliver on our commitment to keep messages private.”
No other global messaging service at this scale provides this level of security for their users’ messages, media, voice messages, video calls, and chat backups, Vora said, adding that, “We believe WhatsApp is the most secure place to have a private conversation. And 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.”