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WhatsApp is going to stop letting everyone see when you’re online

by George Mensah
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On Tuesday, WhatsApp announced several new privacy updates, including the ability for users to check their messages without others knowing.

Soon, users will be able to control who can see when they’re online, prevent others from screenshotting specific messages, and leave groups without notifying entire channels.

WhatsApp has over 2 billion users worldwide and is owned by Facebook (FB) parent company Meta. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the changes on Facebook and Instagram, saying the company would “continue to build new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.”

WhatsApp has long emphasized the use of end-to-end encryption, which means that only the sender and recipient of a message can see the contents of the message. And, like other private messaging platforms, it already allows users to send messages that are deleted after a certain amount of time.

Last year, however, WhatsApp was heavily scrutinized following an update to its terms of service.

Many users were concerned at the time about a section of WhatsApp’s privacy policy that detailed what data is shared with parent company Facebook, which has a troubled track record when it comes to protecting user data.

The update drove some users to Signal, another popular encrypted messaging platform.

Facebook attempted to clear up any confusion about the policy, claiming that its data-sharing practices were not new and did not “affect how people communicate privately with friends or family.”

Now, two of the new WhatsApp features — the ability to choose who can see when you’re active and to leave groups silently — will begin rolling out to all WhatsApp users this month.

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According to WhatsApp, the screenshot blocking tool, which will be available on messages intended to be viewed only once, is still being tested and will be made available later.

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