WhatsApp to allow people to delete messages for everyone long after they are sent

The minimum time will go up from seven minutes to an hour

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 06 March 2018 12:26
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Revellers dressed up as dancers of 'Black Swan' check their mobile phones next to revellers dressed up as a Whatsapp logo as they take part in New Year's celebrations in Coin, near Malaga, southern Spain, early January 1, 2015
Revellers dressed up as dancers of 'Black Swan' check their mobile phones next to revellers dressed up as a Whatsapp logo as they take part in New Year's celebrations in Coin, near Malaga, southern Spain, early January 1, 2015

WhatsApp is making a significant change to the way it lets people "unsend" messages.

Until now, the app has allowed people to take back messages they sent by accident or that they later regretted. But it has given people a very strict time to do so: messages can only be recalled for the seven minutes after they are sent out.

That is about to change in a new update to the app, however, reports the site WABetaInfo. It has found indications in early code of the app that it will allow people to delete messages as much as 4,096 seconds, or 68 minutes and 16 seconds, to delete messages.

Some features do initiallly roll out in the beta but don't find their way to the public release. But this change is likely to make its way into the main version of WhatsApp on both Android and iOS, depending on how it is received.

Other major features remain in beta but could make their way to the platform soon. They include an indication that messages have been forwarded on, for instance – a change that is thought to be intended to reduce the amount of spam and fake stories that are passed around on the app.

WhatsApp took some time to actually introduce the feature, which only arrived properly towards the end of last year. Users had been requesting the feature for some time, and it has been present on other platforms for much longer.

The company has been cautious in the way it has introduced the delete for everyone feature. Unlike some other apps like Telegram, the message can't be entirely deleted – a message will stay in the chat saying that something has been removed, though the contents are obviously deleted – and the time limit has been there since the beginning.

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