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WhatsApp builds up confidence through ‘disappearing’ feature

30 Nov 2020 By ANIRBAN RAY

WhatsApp’s disappearing messages feature that automatically erases old messages after a certain period of time was introduced recently. Users can now ‘enable’ this option to delete messages of individual or group chats after seven days. 

While some users of the messaging app and experts have welcomed the move, some others voiced their displeasure.

IT expert and ethical hacker Tariq al Barwani is one who doesn’t see eye to eye with the tech company when it comes to its latest feature.

“I don’t agree with the disappearing option as these messages are there for a reason. They are indeed records of our conversations and they may be needed in the future,” he said.Prakash Joshi, a PR executive, is on the side of the people who have given the thumbs up to the feature.

“I am happy that this feature has been introduced. When we get emotional, sometimes we use (type) words that are hurtful or abusive. People often misuse these moments; they produce old messages later to shame others.”

He said the new auto delete option will ensure no such threats. 

“We know words are like arrows. Once uttered or typed, they cannot be taken back. At least this new option gives us some relief.”

Jassim Khan, a freelance photographer, said the new feature has landed him in trouble.

“Often our clients use WhatsApp to send us quotations and changes in work plans. It’s embarrassing to ask them for all the information yet again once they get deleted.”

He said although one can turn the disappearing messages feature on or off for separate contacts (in group chats only admins have this option), in haste one can choose the wrong option.

“I’ve lost some important details,” he said.

Once users ‘enable’ the feature, they can send messages including media and audio files which automatically disappear seven days after being sent. 

The feature is available on Android and iOS platforms. The feature is similar to Instagram’s recently rolled out Vanish Mode where all messages, files shared within the conversation window are deleted once the user leaves the conversation.

Haitham al Harthy, an IT expert, said his opinion on the new feature in WhatsApp is 50-50. 

“There are several messages, ones we receive or send daily, that are not of use and take space. So it is better that they get deleted in a stipulated time. Also it is good as some messages can be used for scams and blackmailing people.”

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