WhatsApp has announced that it will be launching a feature that removes messages from a chat a week after being sent.
The Facebook-owned service said the update was designed to give users the option to make conversations ‘feel lighter and more private’.
The long-rumoured feature is similar to the one used by Snapchat, a platform Facebook has taken inspiration from in the past for new features including Instagram Stories.
WhatsApp said its goal with disappearing messages is to make conversations ‘feel as close to in-person as possible’ so ‘they shouldn’t have to stick around forever’.
The company confirmed that either user can activate the feature for themselves, while in group conversations the admin user will have control.
‘We’re starting with seven days because we think it offers peace of mind that conversations aren’t permanent,’ a WhatsApp spokesperson said.
This can be done ‘while remaining practical so you don’t forget what you were chatting about,’ they added.
‘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.’
Facebook confirmed that unopened messages will also disappear after seven days.
However, previews of messages – even ones that have been deleted in the app – may still be displayed in a user’s notifications until WhatsApp is opened.
The firm added that quoted text used for replies will remain visible even after the original message has disappeared.
There is also nothing in place to stop the other user from screenshotting a message, and unlike Snapchat, WhatsApp won’t warn you if they do take a screenshot.
‘Only use disappearing messages with trusted individuals,’ the company wrote on a blog post, adding that someone could also photograph the message with another device or copy and paste the text before it disappears.
By default, media you receive in WhatsApp will be automatically downloaded to your photos app on your mobile device, the firm confirmed.
If disappearing messages are turned on, media sent in the chat will disappear but will be saved on the phone if auto-download is on.
The new feature will be rolled out to users this month, WhatsApp said, adding it will work for iOS and Android users around the world.
To enable to the feature you just go into the chat you want to use it in, tap a contact name, tap disappearing messages, say continue and then on.
Either user can enable or disable the feature and to turn it off just do the same but in selecting off instead of on.
It comes after another revamp to the app earlier this week when WhatsApp announced a new storage management tool would enable users to mass delete gifs, videos and images from chats which are taking up space on their phone.