WhatsApp already allows admins to delete messages for group chats, but auto-deleting messages are headed to WhatsApp private chat in an upcoming update.
Auto Deleting Messages coming to WhatsApp private chat
The new feature is not yet available but is being tested in beta builds 2.20.83 and 2.20.84. The new “Delete Messages” feature allows users to choose how long they want a message to remain before deletion: 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, or 1 year. WhatsApp isn’t yet providing an option for deleting messages under an hour according to the above builds.
The new feature pertains to private chats, allowing users one-on-one to delete messages. Originally, it was designed only for group chat but is in testing for both group and private chat.
The deletion feature, also known as self-destructing messages, is headed to a stable build of WhatsApp. It had been removed in an earlier beta build. Keep in mind that features developed in beta builds have no guarantee of arriving in stable ones. Companies choose to roll out or table features in beta builds all the time.
The good behind the upcoming delete feature
As with all features, the upcoming delete feature is good for a few reasons. First, it gives users a sense of security and control over what they share and for how long they share it. Users need not worry about a digital trail of what they say to be used against them later. Even the best of friendships can turn bitter. It is in the sense of revenge that some friends use what former best friends say against them.
Coworkers who use the platform may not want to keep messages against a current employer. Divorcing spouses may not want certain text messages to be available in court proceedings. With smartphones in use as a primary means of communication today, text messages are top evidence in court proceedings daily.
In short, users will prize this feature because not everything they say will last long enough to be used against them — whether in a court of law or elsewhere.
The bad behind the new delete feature
The new delete feature gives users control over what they say and for how long it remains accessible to other users. The bad about this, though, is that, if the recipient of the message doesn’t access it in time, it disappears without he or she knowing its contents.
One drawback that is clear above is that a message can remain an hour after posting it. That leaves 59 minutes for someone to take a screenshot of a message and keep it for evidence later. While users can delete messages, they won’t be able to delete them quickly enough to prevent screenshotting. Users can’t erase everything they type in the digital world.
Another drawback to the upcoming feature could be that, with deleting messages, users cannot prove they ever had a conversation or retrieve it if they need to.
This isn’t to say that the feature is a bad idea. What it does suggest, though, is that users can’t have their deleting text messages and still be able to retrieve them, too.