A few weeks ago, WhatsApp announced a new temporary messages feature. It now puts WhatsApp on par with other ephemeral messaging apps, such as Telegram and Snapchat.
However, this is a very basic implementation. Once activated, your messages in WhatsApp will self-destruct in 7 days. Yes, WhatsApp starts its ephemerality test with a 7-day window. All your messages will stay in the chat window for 7 days and then be automatically deleted.
If you want the messages to disappear moments after they are sent, you have to stick with Snapchat or Telegram. Otherwise, here are the steps to turn on or off the temporary messages feature in WhatsApp.
Enable/disable temporary messages in WhatsApp
Note: I tested the temporary messages feature on WhatsApp version 220.127.116.11 on my Pixel 5, running Android 11.
- Open WhatsApp and enter a conversation which you want temporary messages after 7 days
- Tap on the contact’s profile picture and scroll down to see a new “Temporary Messages” option. It sits just above the encryption option
- By clicking on “Temporary messages”, you can choose to enable or disable this setting. Select “On” if you want the messages to disappear automatically after 7 days
- Once activated, you and the recipient will see a “You have activated temporary messages” notification in the chat window.
- This functionality is not limited to individual chats. You can also enable it for group chats, but you must be the administrator to enable it.
Some Limits on This!
Additionally, the profile picture will include a timer icon to indicate that the feature is enabled. WhatsApp currently offers a unique 7-day option to automatically delete messages. If the leaks are to be believed, the messaging app can be expected to offer more granular controls over the coming months. We saw leaks limited to 5 seconds before the official beta was released.
The feature of disappearing messages in WhatsApp has many limitations. It lacks the most basic privacy features required for an ephemeral service. You can read all about them on the company’s support page. I suggest you only use this feature with people you trust, as anyone could record your messages and capture them on-screen even if the temporary messages feature is enabled.