WhatsApp wants to host your intimate chat. Do not fret – they will be removed in a week.


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WhatsApp has introduced a setting that automatically deletes messages after seven days, an aim intended to encourage users to feel comfortable chatting in confidence.

This month’s feature, which can be applied to both one-to-one and group chat, is to make the chat feel more like a face-to-face conversation than an impenetrable email thread or text message, by Zafir Khan Said, product manager on WhatsApp.

According to Mr. Khan, the conversations on WhatsApp either do not have the records of most personal conversations forever.

“Things like text messages were a very different use case before a decade — they were used for unilateral co-ordination, because of limited characters and connection dysfunctions,” he said. “But now smartphones have spread and people always have their phones, they use WhatsApp messaging for very deep and intimate conversations.”

Mr said that WhatsApp’s product team should reconsider its beliefs. The new facility will encourage more people to host personal conversations on the platform, confident that their messages will not come back to haunt them, he said.

According to Miguel Alvarez, the global chief technology officer of digital agency AnalogFocal Ltd., the feature could also help promote Facebook on WhatsApp. He said that users can check more in the conversation if they are afraid of missing something important. He said that people in group chats may be encouraged to chime in to keep WhatsApp conversations empty.

“Data and privacy are clearly important in this,” Mr. Alvarez said, “but in reality it forces users to continue the conversation.”

The concept of sending a disappearing message was popularized in early 2010 by Snapchat, which allows users to send short-term photos to their contacts.

Snapchat’s novel messaging experience shocked some, said Ysabel Gerrard, lecturer of digital media and society at the University of Sheffield. He said critics feared the disappearance of the message would make it harder to hold people accountable for their actions online and risked enabling behaviors such as cyber imaging and non-sharing of sexual imagery.

She said those worries died as the format became more familiar.

One of WhatsApp’s biggest competitors, Telegram Group Inc., also offers a “self-destructing message” option within its Messenger product, allowing users to set time limits on the visibility of their messages and media. Some Twitter users set their feeds to auto-delete in a similar way.

WhatsApp believes that the seven-day deletion period gives its system an advantage over apps that erase messages as they are read, meaning people may forget what they are talking about or useful information. May be lost, he said.

“In the test we found that seven days is long enough that you won’t forget what you are talking about, but still so short that you are given peace of mind that this is a place where you are a free Can negotiate, ”Khan said.

The company’s user-research team will study how people respond to the feature, and consider whether to recommend additions such as the ability to protect locked messages from deletion. It will also track whether the disappearance of the message may change the behavior of the user on the platform, Mr. Khan said.

Write Katie Dighton at [email protected]

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