WhatsApp update lets people ‘keep’ disappearing messages

Users will have to agree to let their messages stick around, with what the app says is a ‘sender superpower’

Andrew Griffin
Friday 21 April 2023 13:42 BST
(AFP via Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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WhatsApp will now let people stop disappearing messages from actually disappearing.

The app has allowed people to set their messages to automatically delete from some time. It says that the feature is intended to allow WhatsApp chats to be more conversational, without users having to worry about the things they say sticking around forever.

But it also means that some important messages may disappear before they are saved. Another user might send an important link or piece of information, for instance, that the recipient wants to hold onto for longer.

Now WhatsApp says it will offer a feature for exactly that purpose, known as “Keep in Chat”. It refers to the tool as a “sender superpower” since it allows those messages to stick around – but only if the person who sent them agrees.

When a message is sent that a person wants to stick around, they can click on it and choose the option to keep the message. That will then send a notification to the sender, giving them the option to veto the decision.

If they stop it from being saved, that decision is final, and it will be removed from everyone’s devices when the normal timer expires. That is intended to allow people to have the “final say” on what happens to the messages they have sent, WhatsApp said.

If the person does agree that the message can be saved, it will receive a small bookmark icon. As well as staying within the chat, the message will be added to a “Kept Messages” folder where they can be seen together, arranged by what chat they came from.

The feature will “roll out globally over the next few weeks”, WhatsApp said.

WhatsApp’s disappearing messages feature allows people to choose whether messages will be deleted after 24 hours, seven days, or 90 days. It can be switched on either for all chats or just specific discussions, and either option can be chosen from WhatsApp’s settings.

It is one of a range of privacy and security features that WhatsApp says are intended to ensure that messages do not fall into the wrong hands. Some of those features – such as end-to-end encryption – have proven controversial, with the UK government looking to limit their usage.

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