A new WhatsApp feature lets you stop vanishing messages from disappearing

The Meta-owned WhatsApp is testing a new feature for its iPhone app to mark a disappearing message to keep it past its expiration time.

An illustration with a WhatsApp logo in white set against a green background
  • WhatsApp is testing the ability to remove the expiration date from vanishing messages so that they don’t automatically disappear when the time comes.
  • To protect user privacy, all chat participants must agree with this action. Otherwise, the message will expire according to the schedule.
  • Anyone in the chat can un-keep the message and make it disappear again.

Keeping a WhatsApp disappearing message on your device

WhatsApp may let you mark a vanishing message so that it doesn’t automatically disappear 24 hours, 7 days or 90 days after being sent.

While this feature seems to defeat the purpose of ephemeral messaging, it actually lets you send disappearing messages the same way as before. The only change is that soon you’ll be able to mark individual disappearing messages that you’d like to keep forever. This feature is currently being tested in the WhatsApp beta ahead of public release. WhatsApp can also choose to remove the feature depending on user feedback. Read: WhatsApp view once mode: How to send self-destructing media

In terms of privacy implications, WhatsApp has thought this through pretty well. For example, you cannot keep a disappearing message unless all chat participants agree with this action. And if you’ve changed your mind, you can always set a kept message to disappear anyway, which will make it vanish from everyone’s devices.

WABetaInfo explains:

If a message is kept, it means it was a disappearing message converted to a normal message to avoid the expiration. When someone tries to un-keep a message, the message will be immediately deleted for everyone and it disappears from the chat.

“This message would have disappeared. Un-keeping it will delete it for everyone,” is what the user sees when they choose to un-keep the message so that it won’t disappear from the chat after its expiration. Anyone in the chat can un-keep the message if they don’t want to keep the message in the chat after the expiration.

Watch this space to get pinged when this feature is released for everyone.