WhatsApp users urged to turn on “message timer” to protect messages

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All WhatsApp users should consider turning on a genius privacy feature called “message timer”.

This lets you set a countdown for all new messages to automatically “unsend”.

It’s a clever trick to improve your privacy by destroying old WhatsApp messages.

You can set Disappearing Messages to automatically turn on for all new chats – without affecting existing conversations.

It’s possible to set times for 24 hours, 7 days or 90 days.

“Deciding how long a message lasts should be in your hands,” said WhatsApp.

“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 introduce disappearing messages last year, and more recently a way for photos and videos to immediately disappear after being viewed once.”

The feature is available right now, so update to the latest version of WhatsApp to try it.

Enabling Disappearing Messages automatically works for all one-on-one chats.

And either party in the chat can choose the app setting.

It won’t change or delete any of your existing chats, so don’t worry about losing old info.

A message will also be displayed warning people in the conversation that messages will be deleted.

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This notification will reveal how long you have to read the texts before they vanish forever.

To find the feature, go into WhatsApp then enter your Privacy Settings.

The new feature – added earlier this year – is listed under Default Message Timer.

Not-so-safe space

Of course, even with automatic text deletion you’re still not wholly covered.

It’s still possible for someone to expose your texts sent long ago.

So if you have anything you’re particularly nervous about, consider unsending it sooner rather than later.

And remember: always consider whether it’s a good idea to send any kind of private message that you might one day regret.

Once a text or image arrives on someone else’s phone, you lose control over it.

Unsending can be a great way to limit how exposed your texts are – but it’s not foolproof.

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