How to turn on WhatsApp self-destruct messages and protect your chats

WhatsApp has confirmed the ability to send self-destructing messages that add an extra layer of security for users.

It means that any messages you designate to self-destruct will only remain visible for seven days. Very handy if you don’t want your comments to hang around forever.

The option to have messages delete themselves has been rumoured about since last November. Finally, the Facebook-owned company has made it official.

‘You can send messages that disappear on WhatsApp by enabling disappearing messages,’ WhatsApp said in an FAQ section on its website.

‘Once enabled, new messages sent in the individual or group chat will disappear after seven days. The most recent selection controls all messages in the chat. This setting won’t affect messages you previously sent or received in the chat.’

The setting is very easy to enable once it’s been rolled out – providing you have the latest version of WhatsApp installed.

How to enable self-destructing WhatsApp messages

Metro.co.uk checked WhatsApp on both iOS and Android and while the feature isn’t available yet, it is believed to be rolling out to users soon.

Once it’s here, the ability to self-destruct messages is simple to enable.

  • To start, open WhatsApp and open the chat you want to enable them in.
  • Tap on the contact’s name at the top of the window.
  • You’ll see an option called Disappearing Messages.
  • Tap it and, if prompted, tap Continue.
  • Select on/off as required.

Will my messages always disappear?

There are a few things to bear in mind if you’re looking to start using self-destructing messages.

Firstly, if a person doesn’t check WhatsApp for the seven days the message is visible it gets deleted. However, the preview contents may still be visible in that person’s notifications.

Secondly, any responses to the disappearing message may show the original message as a quote, even if it’s been deleted.

Lastly, if a disappearing message is forwarded to a chat with disappearing messages off, the message won’t disappear in the forwarded chat.

And one final caveat is that if a user creates a backup before a message disappears, the disappearing message will be included in the backup. Disappearing messages will be deleted when a user restores from a backup.

It’s not yet clear exactly when self-destructing messages will become available although it could be in the next few weeks as the app is updated.

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