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WhatsApp Is Making It Easier for You to Leave That Awkward Family Group Chat

Meta announced several new features for the popular messaging app.

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WhatsApp will begin rolling out the new features this month.
WhatsApp will begin rolling out the new features this month.
Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand (AP)

WhatsApp will be rolling out a number of new privacy features that allow its users to be a lot more discreet with their online chats. The new features include exiting a group chat without notifying its members, hiding your online status, and preventing other users from screenshotting ‘view once’ messages.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new features via a brief Facebook post on Tuesday. “We’ll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations,” Zuckerberg wrote. The popular messaging app already uses end-to-end encryption, which basically means that the messages sent on WhatsApp are only viewed by the people sending and receiving them. But the new features go a step further, giving the app’s users more tools to be discreet, and possibly ignore distant relatives you’ve been avoiding.

The new features will now allow users to quietly exit group chats without notifying all the group members with that often inflammatory “Passant left” text. Another addition to the app will let users control who can see their online status, meaning that you can now log into WhatsApp and respond to a message, without letting someone know you checked the app. Lastly, another new feature will now block users from taking screenshots of messages that are intended for viewing once, allowing users to send potentially risqué texts without an added fear of it being shared as a receipt (which actually might not be great if used by the wrong hands). These new privacy tools are expected to roll out later this month.

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Despite its end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp suffered some backlash following an update to its privacy policy in 2021 that revealed some data would be shared with the app’s parent company Meta, which is notorious for mishandling user data. Some users seeking complete privacy have opted to use Signal, another encrypted messaging app, instead. It’s not clear whether the new privacy features are enough to lure users back.