WhatsApp is tweaking its disappearing messages timer

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WhatsApp, Privacy Policy

To say WhatsApp hasn’t had the best start to 2021 is an understatement. They have been having a torrid year and we are still not out of the first quarter yet. While the focus has been on WhatsApp’s horrible attempt to make people agree to its egregious new terms of service, they have actually been pretty busy adding features to their chat app, not that anyone has noticed.

While, for example, WhatsApp still doesn’t have a genuine desktop apps like Telegram, they recently made their WhatsApp Web service better by adding voice and video calling to it. Prior to this, if you wanted to make a video or voice call using the app you had to put down your laptop, pick up your phone and actually make the call. In the world or remote work, the pandemic and ZOOM, that did not go down well with a lot of people including me.

WhatsApp’s lame disappearing message feature is getting a bit of attention

You probably remember reading somewhere that WhatsApp had added a disappearing message feature. This happened back in November last year and to be honest I was excited until I saw WhatsApp’s implementation of it. I never bothered to even test the feature because frankly it’s lame. So here is how it currently works:

  • You tap on your past chats with the contact to whom you want to send a disappearing message
  • Once in the chat, you tap on the contact’s name or number
  • Then you select Disappearing messages
  • You will get a notice giving you the introduction to disappearing messages if you really must go on at this point click continue
  • Then choose on

Given all this information it’s no wonder no one cares about them. Why do messages have to stay on the recipient’s phone for 7 days is a mystery I have never been able to fathom. If you want your messages to disappear it’s just easier to tell the sender or receipient to just delete the message themselves rather than go through with this ridiculous feature.

According to WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is now testing the ability to set the timer to 24 hours. That’s still much better but again it’s still ridiculous if you ask me. Again why can’t WhatsApp allow for shorter destruction times? Why can’t they just allow people to set their own timer? Both Telegram and Signal already allow for this. And what’s up with not including media in the self-destruction feature?

Use cases for disappearing messages

The nonsense I often hear from people is that disappearing messages shouldn’t get priority attention from WhatsApp because they are only useful for cheating couples. That is not true. There are bona fide uses for disappearing messages.

  • When sending sensitive documents such as an ID to a party who wants to verify you identity but you don’t want them to keep your private information
  • For WhatsApp based apps which require you to type a PIN, OTP or Password as part of the interaction. Why should that stay for a whole week?
  • When you send someone their password or sensitive information via WhatsApp
  • Intimate photos of yourself to your loved ones-not necessarily a small house. We all know this is a prevalent practice even though people like to pretend it doesn’t happen, it happens and the consequences can be devastating when this leaks because WhatsApp just likes saving media to it’s many folders.

It’s not clear when the 24 hour disappearing messages are coming but hopefully soon. I am not impressed by the latest addition to be honest but it’s better than the current 7 days I guess.

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  1. wokenman

    You’ve shut a lot of people up in advance with that last section about usage cases – otherwise by now this comment section would be full with that typical holier-than-thou crowd – heeh why would you want disappearing messages unless for cheating blah blah!

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