WhatsApp is allowing users to leave group chats without notifying others and control who can see when they’re online as part of a privacy update to the messaging app.
As part of the update, which will roll out this month, users will also have the ability to prevent people from taking screenshots of View Once messages, which are designed to disappear after being opened.
The screenshot lock tool is currently being tested, WhatsApp said, and will be rolled out to users soon.
Currently, when a user leaves a group chat, a notification appears at the bottom of the conversation telling others in the group that they have left.
And while users can already turn off a feature that tells others if they’ve read a message, until now it hasn’t been possible to hide the fact that a user was online and using WhatsApp.
The Meta-owned messaging platform said the new features are aimed at continuing to improve privacy around online conversations.
Some activists have raised concerns about the end-to-end encryption used on WhatsApp and some other platforms to secure conversations, arguing that it can allow criminals to evade detection.
But in a post announcing the WhatsApp update, Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg said: “We’ll continue to build new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.”
Ami Vora, head of product at WhatsApp, said the platform focused on creating features that “empower people to have more control and privacy over their messages.”
“Over the years, we’ve added interlocking layers of protection to help keep your conversations secure, and the new features are one way we continue to deliver on our commitment to keeping your messages private,” he said.
“No other global messaging service on this scale offers this level of security for its users’ messages, media, voicemails, video calls and chat backups.
“We believe WhatsApp is the safest place to have a private conversation. And to spread the word about these new features, we’re also launching a global campaign, starting in the UK and India, to educate people about how we work to protect their private conversations on WhatsApp”.