WhatsApp 'Disappearing Messages' Are Auto-Deleted After One Week

The Facebook-owned platform is rolling out the ephemeral messaging option to users everywhere.
WhatsApp 'Disappearing Messages' Are Auto-Deleted After One Week
Image credit: WhatsApp via PC Mag

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This story originally appeared on PCMag

Nothing lasts forever — not even WhatsApp messages. The Facebook-owned chat service is taking (another) page from Snapchat and launching self-destructing posts that disappear after seven days.

The optional feature aims to make digital dialog feel "lighter and more private," according to a company blog announcement. "Our goal is to make conversations on WhatsApp feel as close to in-person as possible, which means they shouldn't have to stick around forever."

Once enabled, new messages will vanish after one week, meaning those embarrassing photos, awkward sexts and sensitive discussions have a short shelf life. In one-to-one chats, either user can turn the function on or off; in groups, admins have control.

The setting does not affect messages sent or received prior to activation. There are a number of caveats, though:

  • Posts will disappear even if a user doesn't open WhatsApp in the seven-day period; however, a preview may still be visible in their notifications.

  • Text quoted in reply to a disappearing message could remain in the chat after seven days.

  • Messages will not disappear if forwarded to a conversation with the feature turned off.

  • Messages are included in a backup created before the seven-day period, but will be deleted when a user restores from backup.

There is no word on how this ephemeral element, rolling out to users everywhere this month, will affect newly starred (i.e. saved) posts. By default, media received in WhatsApp is automatically downloaded to your photos — even with disappearing messages triggered. Turn off auto-download via Settings > Data and Storage Usage.

Related: How to Read Deleted WhatsApp Messages

"We're starting with seven days because we think it offers peace of mind that conversations aren't permanent, while remaining practical so you don't forget what you were chatting about," the blog said. "The shopping list or store address you received a few days ago will be there while you need it, and then disappear after you don't."

WhatsApp encourages people to, as with any fleeting function, proceed with caution: It's always possible for someone to screenshot, copy, or take a photo of content before it disappears.

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