Whatsapp is testing disappearing messages that will self-destruct after they are sent and is intended to preserve the privacy of conversations, by allowing messages to be sent but letting the record that remains of them to be purged.
When it is turned on, users will be able to set a time limit on the messages which means they can send as normal, but then deleted, stopping people from copying or screen grabbing them.
The feature currently works in a strange way, according to a tech research website that first spotted the changes. It appears to still be in development, the site noted.
At the moment, messages can only be set to delete after five seconds or one hour. They can also only be used in group chats, and every message in those group chats will be deleted as part of the new feature.
For now, the feature is available in the beta version of the app for Android. But features from that beta regularly move to the main version of the app and would bring WhatsApp in line with a number of other chat apps, including Gmail, Telegram as well as Facebook Messenger.
It’s not clear when the disappearing messages will come to all WhatsApp users. It is also possible that the company could opt to remove or fundamentally change the update.