The company Meta announced on Monday new privacy features available for WhatsApp.
Users of the messaging and video calling app will now be able to leave groups silently, without notifying other members, as well as control who can see their online status and block other users from taking screenshots of ephemeral messages.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said this would help WhatsApp messages remain “as private and secure as face-to-face conversations“.
The new updates will begin rolling out this month and will be highlighted in a global campaign starting in the UK.
Avoiding embarrassment and drama
The popular messaging app currently alerts all members of a group when someone leaves or gets kicked out of a conversation.
To date, WhatsApp did not allow its users to leave a group quietly, which could cause awkwardness, embarrassment or drama for those who tried to leave or delete the group without being noticed.
But now only group admins will receive a notification.
Ami Vora, product manager of the company, assured that the new update is part of the platform’s approach that seeks to “create product functions that allow people to have more control and privacy about your messages.
“We believe that WhatsApp is the safest place to have a private conversation,” he added.
“No other global messaging service of this scale provides this level of security for its users’ messages, data, voice messages, video calls and chat backups.”
This also includes the option to allow users to choose who they can see when they are active on the platform, aligning online status options and “last seen” settings.
Janis Wong, a research associate at the Alan Turing Institute, told the BBC that sIt is always good to give users more control: “They like it and they need to have more control.”
But unless users are prompted to use the new features or informed via the app itself, their impact could be limited.
“If it’s not the default, or if users aren’t prompted to reconsider their choices, then it’s not necessarily very useful, if users don’t know this is something they can do,” he added.
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