With a good number of messaging apps out there, the things we say will likely stay in that chat thread forever. But WhatsApp is going to be one of the messaging services ready to change that.

WhatsApp has announced that all users are now able to access its new ‘disappearing messages’ features, which means that any new message that is sent designated under a self-erase chat will erase after 7 days.

WhatsApp explains:

“When disappearing messages is turned on, new messages sent to a chat will disappear after 7 days, helping the conversation feel lighter and more private. In a one-to-one chat, either person can turn disappearing messages on or off. In groups, admins will have the control.

We’re starting with 7 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. The shopping list or store address you received a few days ago will be there while you need it, and then disappear after you don’t. You can read more, including how to enable disappearing messages here.”

When the setting is turned on, any previous messages sent before it was activated won’t be impacted.

According to the Help Center explanation:

  • If a user doesn’t open WhatsApp in the seven day period, the message will disappear. However, the preview of the message might still be displayed in notifications until WhatsApp is opened.
  • When you reply to a message, the initial message is quoted. If you reply to a disappearing message, the quoted text might remain in the chat after seven days.
  • If a disappearing message is forwarded to a chat with disappearing messages off, the message won’t disappear in the forwarded chat.
  • If a user creates a backup before a message disappears, the disappearing message will be included in the backup. Disappearing messages will be deleted when a user restores from a backup.

In a nutshell, messages won’t really disappear completely. It’s also possible for users to take snapshots of the conversation before the week is up, so there’s that as well.

But even with these potential issues with this feature, it is a positive step.