Meta-owned WhatsApp on Tuesday rolled out new updates in a bid to enhance the privacy features in the social media platform. Notably, the decision to roll out the privacy features was taken after the ‘WhatsApp Privacy Study’ was conducted by the social media platform, where 72 per cent respondents answered that they value being able to speak in an honest, unfiltered way but in a more private setting.
Ami Vora, who is Whatsapp Head of Product said that WhatsApp is the only social media platform to have rolled-out such privacy features. “We believe WhatsApp is the most secure place to have a private conversation. And to spread the word about these new features, we are also kicking off a global campaign, starting with the UK and India, to educate people about how we work to protect their private conversations on WhatsApp,” Vora said.
Here are the new privacy features of WhatsApp:
Exiting group chats without notifying everyone: This new feature enables the users to silently exit group chats. Only admins will be rolled out that a member has left the group. This feature will be available for all users by the end of this month.
Control Who Can See When You’re Online: This feature allows users to decide who can see them online. In the study, 51 per cent of respondents said that they prefer to stay hidden while being online.
Delete Once View Messages: This is another new feature that is being introduced by WhatsApp which self-destructs the messages after the receiver reads them once. This feature allows the user to choose if they want to have a digital record of the messages and restricts taking screenshots of messages.
Time Limit For Deleting Whatsapp Messages- Whatsapp tweeted earlier this week that the time limit to delete sent messages has been increased to two days. Earlier the time limit to delete the messages was one hour, eight minutes and 16 seconds.
Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO, Meta, the company that owns WhatsApp said, “New privacy features coming to WhatsApp: exit group chats without notifying everyone, control who can see when you're online, and prevent screenshots on view once messages. We'll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.”
End To End Encryption Feature In WhatsApp
In a bid to enhance privacy features and after receiving flak over the lack of encrypted data, last year WhatsApp introduced an end-to-end encryption feature for chat backups. This means that all content via messages and calls would be encrypted and cannot be accessed by third parties including WhatsApp. However, backup service providers such as Google and Apple will be able to access the data. For Android users, the chat backup will be in Google Cloud, whereas for Apple users chat backup will be in iCloud.
Criticism Over Privacy Concerns
Notably, the big tech companies and social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter have been facing heat for infringing user privacy for the past few years. These firms are at loggerheads with several governments including that of India as they introduce new technological legislations, to protect user data and privacy. Notably, the new Information Technology in India makes it mandatory for social media platforms to identify the first originator message while tracing the chats. Both Facebook and WhatsApp are legally contesting this legislation.