I’m one of those oddballs that’s somewhat obsessive about their WhatsApp message history. You simply can’t put a price on the smugness from being able to remind someone that you told them so 18 months ago with documented proof. WhatsApp’s search functionality makes that petty dream a reality every day.
But some people take obsessive behaviour to the other end of the spectrum, wanting all of their messages to be deleted, just in case it might come back to haunt them at a later date. For most people that’s probably extreme paranoia, but if you’re a government official, your paranoid side may have a point.
For them, WhatsApp already allows self-destructing messages in three flavours: your all-important, top-secret messages can self-destruct after 24 hours, seven days or 90 days. But according to WABetaInfo, that’s about to get a whole lot more granular with 15 more options so you can really finetune your privacy.
By poking around the WhatsApp Desktop beta, the site found that messages will one day be primed for auto-deletion in a matter of hours (1, 3, 6, or 12), days (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 14, 21, 30, 60 or 180) or a full calendar year.
At this point, you may wonder why on Earth Meta doesn’t just let a user pick exactly how many days, minutes, hours and seconds they want to leave before their messages vanish into the ether, but for whatever reason it doesn’t seem inclined to do so.
Still, options less than a day certainly make sense. If you need to send a password over, for example, an hour’s window to use it seems like plenty. And there’s far less chance of your precious data leaking in an hour than 24.
As this is just something spotted in beta, there’s no indication as to when this will hit the live app for everyone to enjoy. But generally, test features like this tend to emerge somewhere between a couple of weeks and several months. For the moment, you’ll just have to delete your messages manually if vanishing after an hour isn’t good enough for you.