WhatsApp rolls out disappearing messages with multiple durations to everyone

Meta-owned WhatsApp is rolling out disappearing messages with multiple durations for group and individual chats to everyone via the latest version of its iOS and Android app.

Marketing image showing the main features of WhatsApp's disappearing messages with multiple durations
Image credit: Apple


  • Meta-owned WhatsApp is bringing ephemeral messaging to all its customers
  • The app is also adding two new durations for disappearing messages
  • Vanishing messages are available in group and individual chats

Now everyone can send WhatsApp disappearing messages with multiple durations

From the announcement on the WhatsApp blog:

Deciding how long a message lasts should be in your hands. We’ve become accustomed to leaving a digital copy of just about everything we type without even thinking about it. It’s become the equivalent of a note taker following us around making a permanent record of everything we’ve said. This is why we introduced disappearing messages last year, and more recently a way for photos and videos to immediately disappear after being viewed once.

And now, the disappearing messages feature is being rolled out to all WhatsApp users with two new durations available, 24 hours and 90 days, joining the existing 7-day option,

For people who choose to switch on default disappearing messages, we will display a message in your chats that tells people this is the default you’ve chosen. This makes clear it’s nothing personal – it’s a choice you’ve made about how you want to communicate with everyone on WhatsApp moving forward. Though of course, if you need a particular conversation to remain permanent, it’s easy to switch a chat back.

Auto-disappearing messages must be turned on manually in your chat settings. In group chats, auto-vanishing messages can only be turned on and used by members with administrator privileges.

How to turn on WhatsApp’s disappearing messages

Follow these steps to make disappearing messages the new default for all new one-on-one direct messages on WhatsApp.

  • Open WhatsApp on your iPhone.
  • Touch the “Settings” tab at the bottom of the app.
  • Choose “Account” from the list.
  • Now select the option labeled “Privacy”.
  • Choose “Default message timer,” then select a duration.

Adjusting this setting won’t affect messages you previously sent or received in the chat. As mentioned, disappearing messages can also be used in group chats.

WhatsApp users will now have the option to turn on disappearing messages by default for all new chats. When enabled, all new one-on-one chats you or another person start will be set to disappear at your chosen duration, and we’ve added a new option when creating a group chat that lets you turn it on for groups you create. This new feature is optional and does not change or delete any of your existing chats.

For group chats, only members with administrator privileges can turn this feature on.

How WhatsApp’s disappearing messages work

A support document on the WhatsApp website clarifies how WhatsApp’s ephemeral messaging feature works and what happens when you send an automatically disappearing message to a contact.

  • If a user doesn’t open WhatsApp in the 24-hour, 7-day or 90-day period, the message will disappear from the chat. 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 the duration you select.
  • 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.

Users shouldn’t put their trust that any sensitive information they share via a disappearing message won’t be recorded. For instance, the recipient can easily take a screenshot of a disappearing message before it vanishes. They could also forward your message, screenshot it or take a photograph of the device screen.

WhatsApp view-once media vs. disappearing messages

The Meta-owned messaging service added 7-day disappearing messages to its mobile app for iPhone and Android back in November 2020 on a limited basis. In October 2021, this feature gained multiple message expiry presets, allowing users to pick when their message will disappear: after 2 hours, seven days or 90 days.

Be sure not to confuse these vanishing messages with self-destructing media: WhatsApp also has the ability to set the photos and videos you send to someone to automatically disappear from the chat after being viewed just once.