20 November 2020

What is WhatsApp’s disappearing message feature?

Boy using phone outside

WhatsApp, which is rated 16+, has started rolling out a new disappearing messages feature. Here’s everything you need to know to help keep your child safe:

What is it?

The new feature, allows users to enable an option that deletes new messages on a group or individual chat after seven days. This includes voice and text chat, videos, images and links. Opting into this feature won’t delete any previous chats.

Who can enable this feature?

In group chats only the admin can enable this feature but in one to one chats both parties have the option to switch it on.

What you should be aware of

 By default, any images or videos you receive over WhatsApp automatically save to your device. So when you send something to someone else, it’s likely that it will save to the camera roll on their phone. This means that even if gets deleted on the chat history the image or video could still be saved on the other person’s phone.

 People can still forward messages to other group chats or individuals. The message will only be deleted if the person has enabled the feature.

People can still take screengrabs of conversations, images and videos on their phone before they get deleted.

What do we think of it?

Make sure to speak to your child about who they’re talking to on WhatsApp and about this new feature. If you decide to let them enable it, remind them that while the conversation might be deleted on WhatsApp there’s still a chance someone else could screengrab or save it on their phone without their knowledge.

Tell them to think carefully before they send anything on the app and to only talk to people they know from school or other offline activities and family members.

You might want to talk to them about the types of videos and images they share online. Use our advice article on sharing images and videos online to give you tips on how to start the conversation.

And check out our WhatsApp review for more tips on how to stay safe.