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WhatsApp opens the door to silent exits from annoying groups

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Yui Mok/PA</span>
Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

WhatsApp users will soon be able to avoid social awkwardness by gracefully – and silently – leaving annoying groups, the company has announced.

Currently, if you leave a WhatsApp group, every member is notified, which can be embarrassing for smaller groups and irritating for larger ones.

After the update, part of a series arriving on the app over the coming month, users will be able to leave a group silently, with only the administrators receiving a notification. The company is calling the updates “privacy features”, which include others that it says enhance security for users.

Users can already send Snapchat-style ephemeral messages with the “view once” setting on the chat app, which deletes the image after it has been viewed. Now, WhatsApp will borrow another feature from Snapchat and attempt to block screenshots for those messages. The feature is being tested and will be available to users “soon”, WhatsApp says.

Blocked screenshots are not a guarantee of security, since users can always take a picture of the screen with another device, or receive the message on a “rooted” or “jailbroken” device. However, by making it harder to save an image that was intended to only last a few seconds, the company hopes user privacy is secured.

A third update lets users limit who can see when they are online, letting them expose that sensitive information to friends and family without needing to inform the whole world of when they’re checking their phones.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of WhatsApp’s parent company, Meta, said in a Facebook post revealing the changes: “We’ll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.”

Ami Vora, head of product at WhatsApp, added: “We believe WhatsApp is the most secure place to have a private conversation. And to spread the word about these new features, we’re also kicking off a global campaign, starting with the UK and India, to educate people about how we work to protect their private conversations on WhatsApp.”