Facebook (META 1.13%) announced today that WhatsApp, its popular text and voice messaging app, will launch a new feature in the coming weeks that can be set to automatically delete conversations after a week. The feature will be off by default, but once the disappearing-messages feature is turned on, any new conversations in the chat will disappear after seven days. The feature will also dispose of photos and videos after a week. Other apps like Instagram already offer similar options.
The announcement, which appeared in the WhatsApp blog, said, "We're starting with seven days because we think it offers peace of mind that conversations aren't permanent, while remaining practical so you don't forget what you were chatting about."
Either person in a one-on-one conversation can turn on disappearing messages, while in a group chat, the admin will control the feature. If the user creates a backup while the message is still active, it will still be saved. Additionally, if users have activated auto-download of their photos and videos, those will also be saved from deletion, though they will still disappear from the chat.
Private messaging has seen massive adoption on WhatsApp, which boasts more than 2 billion users worldwide and roughly 100 billion messages each day. Privacy has always been a strong selling point for the app, which also features end-to-end encryption.
This is just the latest move by Facebook to improve the features in WhatsApp. The tech giant recently added a "manage storage" tool that allows users to scroll through the various attachments in their chat, sort them by size, and delete them, thereby saving space on the user's phone. It also identifies attachments that have been forwarded many times and may be stored repeatedly.