WhatsApp debuts feature that allows users to delete accidental messages

31 Oct 2017

WhatsApp chat window. Image: Alex Ruhl/Shutterstock

A new WhatsApp feature could put a stop to awkward situations caused by accidental messages.

A new feature spotted on the WhatsApp user FAQ will soon mean that iOS, Windows Phone and Android users will be able to delete messages sent by mistake before the recipient has time to read them.

Apps such as Telegram, WeChat and Viber all have similar features, and WhatsApp has been testing such a feature for a number of months now. The new option will be called ‘Delete for everyone’ and will be functional in individual conversations as well as group chats. This new addition comes after WhatsApp’s existing policy of end-to-end encryption for conversations.

All successfully recalled messages will be replaced with a notice that says ‘This message was deleted’.

Not available for all WhatsApp users yet

Although the feature has been added to the official WhatsApp FAQ, it is not yet available to all users of the popular messaging service.

To check if your device has the feature enabled, go into any conversation and press down on a message that you wish to delete. A list of options will appear at the top of the window, including a rubbish bin. You then tap the bin and select the ‘Delete for everyone’ option.

The deleted messages will disappear from both the chat thread and the notification centre on the recipient’s phone, which will buy senders more time as the person receiving the message is less likely to check their phone without a prior notification.

Seven-minute grace period

Messages can only be recalled within a seven-minute window after sending them, and there is no way to alter this once it has gone beyond this timeframe.

In order for the messages to be successfully wiped on both ends, all users will have to have the latest version of WhatsApp installed and the ‘Delete for everyone’ feature enabled.

WhatsApp said that recipients could still possibly see your message before it is deleted or if deletion was unsuccessful, and you also won’t be notified if deleting for everyone didn’t work – so you may have to double-check the chat window to be sure the text has been purged.

WhatsApp chat window. Image: Alex Ruhl/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects