3 new WhatsApp privacy features include view-once screenshot blocking

Three new WhatsApp privacy features coming to Meta’s popular messaging app let you control who sees your online status, block view-once screenshots and more.

WhatsApp marketing image showcasing new privacy features: Online presence, view-once screenshot blocking and leaving groups without notifying everyone
Image: WhatsApp
  • What’s happening? Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook post reveals three new WhatsApp privacy features that’ll increase your privacy and security when using the messaging app. For starters, you can now control who can see when you’re online. Screenshotting disappearing view-once messages is no longer possible. And finally, you can now exit group chats without notifying everyone.
  • Why care? Before, you couldn’t control your online presence, anyone could screenshot view-once photos and exiting group chats notified everyone.
  • What to do? Be sure to get the latest WhatsApp version [App Store link] and try out the new privacy features for yourself (they’re rolling out gradually so check back later if you don’t have them yet).

3 new WhatsApp privacy and security features

The official announcement on the WhatsApp blog notes that WhatsApp’s parent company Meta has kicked off a privacy ad campaign to educate people about these new features, starting in India and the United Kingdom and coming later this year to more countries. Read: How to share Live Photos as GIFs on WhatsApp

1. Control who sees your last seen and online status

You can now control your online presence by deciding who sees when you’re online. You can hide your online status from specific contacts or set it to “Same as Last Seen” if you’d like your last seen and online to have the same level of privacy.

You can set your last seen status to be visible by everyone, no one or only people you’ve added as your WhatsApp contacts. And if you choose the option labeled “My Contacts Except,” you’ll be able to hide your status from specific contacts.

Your last seen and online statuses tell others the last time you used WhatsApp and whether you’re online. “Last seen refers to the last time the contact used WhatsApp,” according to a WhatsApp support document on last seen and online.

If someone is online on WhatsApp, this means they have the app open in the foreground on their device and are connected to the internet though it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve read your message.

2. Screenshot blocking for view-once messages

WhatsApp supports sending media that can only be viewed once before disappearing, but it has a major omission: no screenshot blocking.

That’s going to change soon because any attempt at screenshotting a view-once photo or using the iOS screen recording feature to record video captures will fail and the recipient will see a message, reading:

This screenshot was blocked for added privacy.

Blocking screenshots only works for view-once photos and videos. It’s still possible for a chat participant to grab a screenshot of a WhatsApp chat without you being notified about it, even if the chat includes some disappearing messages.

Unfortunately, blocking screenshots won’t prevent anyone from using another phone or recording device to snap an image of a WhatsApp conversation.