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WhatsApp update adds ‘secret codes’ for chats

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 30 November 2023 14:07 GMT
(AFP via Getty Images)
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WhatsApp has added “secret codes” for chats, allowing them to be locked and hidden.

The feature is intended to let people have a chat that will not even be visible within the list of conversations.

Instead, they can only be found by typing that code into the search bar at the top of the app.

The feature is intended as “another layer of privacy for protecting your most sensitive conversations”. It has been built for those people who might need to keep important conversations entirely hidden, even from people who have access to their phone – such as people in abusive relationships.

WhatsApp described the feature as a way to protect chats and “make them harder to find if someone has access to your phone or you share a phone with someone else”.

It follows a similar feature, Chat Lock, which was announced earlier this year. When chats are locked, they are taken out of the inbox and put in their own “Locked chats” section, which requires a password or biometric authentication like a fingerprint to open.

“We think this feature will be great for people who have reason to share their phones from time to time with a family member or those moments where someone else is holding your phone at the exact moment an extra special chat arrives,” it said then.

Chats can be locked by long tapping on a conversation in the list and choosing the lock option. They can be found again by slowly pulling down on the inbox, which will bring up the prompt to open it.

Secret code, however, means that they will not appear in that list at all. Instead, users will have to put the code into the search bar. As such, people will not even be able to find those hidden chats even if they know they might exist.

Users create the code by locking it and then choosing the code option, when they are prompted to “use a word or emoji, but make it memorable”. Typing that word or emoji into the search bar will then bring up the chat, but it will otherwise not show at all.

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