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    Self-destructing WhatsApp messages are now official

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    Martí Micolau
    @martímicolau

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    The ephemeral messages of WhatsApp have arrived: so you can send messages that disappear in your chats. We have known for some time that WhatsApp works on the new function called "ephemeral messages", which allows users of the messaging platform to send messages and which, after a short time, delete themselves.


    Subsequently, we learned more details about how this new feature works and just a few weeks ago we completely got rid of the doubts thanks to a leak that showed us how it works. And now, as 2020 draws to a close, WhatsApp has formalized self-destructing messages … more or less.



    "Ephemeral messages", the new feature of WhatsApp

    Through its help website, WhatsApp has announced the arrival of this new feature - we don't know if it's accidental or intentional - called "Ephemeral messages" or "Temporary messages".

    How it works is what we already knew: it will be possible activate an option that will make our messages sent to a chat disappear after seven days.


    This option will affect all messages in the chat, even if those that were already sent will not be deleted.

    WhatsApp specifies that any user can activate temporary messages in an individual chat, although in group chats, administrators must activate or deactivate this option.

    The company also took the opportunity to clarify some doubts about what happens in case a user does not open WhatsApp during those seven days despite having a temporary message waiting.


    In this situation, the message will be deleted, although WhatsApp indicates that the its content may remain visible in the preview, for example in WhatsApp message notifications. Also, it won't be deleted just in case the message was shared in another chat.



    They still say that, if a WhatsApp backup is created in which includes a conversation with temporary messages, these will remain in the conversation when the copy is restored.

    Finally, it is convenient to remember that in case of having activated il automatic download of WhatsApp media files, the multimedia content of temporary messages it will be automatically saved on your mobile, even if that content will disappear from the chat along with the message.


    The risks of temporary messages "Ephemeral messages"

    Along with the announcement of the new Ephemeral Messages feature, WhatsApp is taking the opportunity to encourage users to use temporary messages only with trusted people. The company itself indicates already some of the risks that can have the use of this function, since it is not foolproof for the moment. They indicate the following:

    • Forward the temporary message or take a screenshot and save it before it disappears.
    • Copy and save the contents of a temporary message before it disappears.
    • Take a picture of a temporary message with another device before it disappears.
    • Save attached media files in temporary messages

    How to activate or deactivate temporary WhatsApp messages

    Although at the time of this article's publication this feature is not yet available, we already know the steps for activate the temporary messages "Ephemeral messages" of WhatsApp, i.e. deactivate this function in both an individual chat and a group. These are the steps to follow:


    1. Open the WhatsApp chat in which you want to activate or deactivate the function.
    2. Tap the contact or group name.
    3. Tap the "Ephemeral Messages" option, then tap "Continue": it will only appear the first time you use this feature.
    4. Select the option “On” or “Off” depending on whether you want to enable or disable the disappearance of messages.

    Further Reading:

    • What is Vanish mode on Facebook Messenger and Instagram
    • Then you can use your TV to watch WhatsApp video calls
    • WhatsApp warns: if you don't use the official application, your account will be banned
    • How to send disappearing messages on Facebook Messenger
    • How to recover deleted WhatsApp messages
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