Privacy is increasingly becoming a defining feature among chat apps. Nowadays, encryption is turned on by default on even the most popular messaging services, from Apple’s iMessage to WhatsApp. While disappearing texts are increasingly becoming the norm on those platforms and their smaller rivals, like Telegram and Signal.
In the race to roll out new security functions, WhatsApp is introducing an update that privacy-minded users will lap up.
The app’s new “chat lock” feature lets you hide your most secret and valuable threads from prying eyes in a separate folder. Once they’re placed in the vault, you’ll only be able to access the chats by using a passcode or fingerprint ID.
Activating the chat lock will also hide the contents of that message in notifications.
In theory, that means that no-one will be able to see your clandestine or sensitive messages, even if they borrow your phone or rifle through your chats without your permission. It could also help you avoid embarrassment if a notification bearing a special text arrives when your phone is visible to others.
How to use WhatsApp chat lock
The new feature is straightforward to use. After updating the app to the latest version, you can lock a chat by tapping the name of a one-to-one or group, and selecting the lock option.
To reveal these chats, slowly pull down on your inbox and enter your phone password or biometric.
In the coming months, WhatsApp plans to add more options for chat lock, including locking for companion devices. In the near future, you will also be able to set a custom password for your locked chats that’s different from the one for your phone. This could be especially useful if you want to ensure messages are kept hidden from loved ones who know your usual passwords.
Is WhatsApp safe to use?
The latest update comes on the heels of a privacy debacle for WhatsApp, that saw the platform accused of spying on users through a phone’s mic. A Twitter engineer made the claim last week, echoing concerns that had been shared by other users on the web.
The allegations prompted Twitter boss Elon Musk to tweet that “WhatsApp cannot be trusted”. Notably, the entrepreneur recently launched an encrypted messaging feature for Twitter
However, WhatsApp said that the issue was caused by a bug on Android phones, which it is investigating alongside Google.
The supposed error incorrectly showed that WhatsApp was constantly accessing the mic on a phone, according to the Meta-owned platform. WhatsApp is only supposed to do this when a person makes or receives a call, or records a voice note.