WhatsApp privacy update: How to leave groups silently, control your online status and block screenshots

·2-min read
WhatsApp users who are switching to an iPhone from Android can take their message history with them (Nick Ansell/PA) (PA Archive)
WhatsApp users who are switching to an iPhone from Android can take their message history with them (Nick Ansell/PA) (PA Archive)

Mark Zuckerberg has announced three WhatsApp updates to improve privacy on the chatting app.

The Meta CEO’s newest move to protect users includes leaving groups without notifying entire channels, allowing more control with who can view status updates, and blocking images being screenshotted by recipients.

In an announcement on Facebook and Instagram, Zuckerberg, 38, said the decision was to “keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations”.

With the long history of end-to-end encryption threatened by parent company Facebook’s plagued privacy policy history, the announcement is a step in the opposite direction.

Here’s what you should know about WhatsApp’s latest updates:

Leave a WhatApp group silently

In social media circles where every move is hyper-visible, it seems impossible to make understated moves.

An update allows you to bypass automatic announcements of departure that reach the (maximum of 256) members of a group chat.

Users can now leave chats without alerting every member – only group administrators will get a notification.

Control who sees my status updates on WhatsApp

Previous updates have allowed WhatsAppers to privatise their “last seen” status to limited contacts, or no one.

The notification that sits at the top of each chat tells you when your contact was last active and opened the app.

Now, the app will allow the same option for “online” status. But another caveat allows users to choose on a contact-by-contact basis who will be able to view their status.

Block screenshots on WhatsApp

Meta took a page out of Snapchat’s book with their disappearing images in 2021.

Unlike disappearing messages, that are erased after a selected period of time by chat administrators, sent pictures are deleted once viewed.

The same feature will now have an added level of security with the option to block the recipient from screenshotting the fleeting image, making the “view once” option true to its name.