Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has announced that the popular cross-platform instant messaging application will receive an update this month that will keep users conversations "as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.”
The changes are set to be implemented latest in August, and are part of a campaign to help WhatsApp’s two billion plus users feel more secure.
Owned by Facebook creator Zuckerberg’s information technology company Meta, the world’s most popular messaging app will make a number of privacy changes to the application, with it being made possible for users users to leave group chats ‘silently’, while also allowing them to control who can see when they are online.
WhatsApp’s head of product, Ami Vora, said the company were focused fully on designing features which “empower” people, adding she believed “WhatsApp is the most secure place to have a private conversation.
"No other global messaging service at this scale provides this level of security for their users' messages, media, voice messages, video calls, and chat back-ups,” she added.
What changes are being made in the latest WhatsApp update?
The new ‘leave silently’ option will doubtless be one of the most popular features of the update.
Currently, when a user exits a group chat, all members of that group chat are alert by a notification at the bottom of their screen which indicates someone has left the chat, or has been removed by an admin – which can be a tad awkward for the user.
However, with their new leave silently update, users will be able to remove themselves from a group without notifying the entire chat that they have departed. Though group admins will be notified, others will not.
Another feature which is certain to be popular is the ability to control who can see when they are online.
In the app’s next update, users will be able to hide that they are online from specific contacts – or just their entire phonebook.
While users have become accustomed to being able to turn off a feature which tells others if they have ‘read’ a message, it has previously not been possible to hide the fact that a user was online and actively using WhatsApp.
Interestingly, as part of the update, users are also being given the ability to block people from taking screenshots of their ‘view once’ messages, which are designed to disappear after being opened.
A popular change in a previous update was that users were able to send a ‘view once once’ photo, which would allow them to send a photo that would be visible for only a couple of seconds, before it was deleted.
However, previously, those who received the photo were not blocked from being able to screenshot the photo, meaning their privacy could be compromised.
As part of the new update though, Meta have confirmed they are trailing a ‘screenshot blocking tool’ which would be released to users soon, allowing them the option of blocking people from taking screenshots of their ‘view once’ messages.