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WhatsApp may soon protect your private conversations from prying pals

What you need to know

  • WhatsApp appears to be working on a new feature that will allow users to lock individual chats.
  • The as-yet unannounced capability has been spotted in the latest beta version of the app.
  • It should also prevent photos and videos sent in private chats from being automatically saved to the local media gallery.

WhatsApp has frequently rolled out privacy-focused capabilities meant to give you a bit more control over the media files and messages you share on the messaging app, chief among them being the ephemeral message feature. In another nod to privacy, WhatsApp is apparently toying with a new feature that allows you to lock individual chats with your fingerprint or a passcode.

At the moment, you can only lock the entire app with your biometrics if you want to protect your WhatsApp chats. However, it’s currently not possible to keep specific conversations hidden from prying eyes. But that could change in the near future.

A new capability spotted by WABetaInfo in the latest beta version of the app will make that happen. According to a screenshot shared by the outlet, WhatsApp is working on a new feature to lock chats behind a passcode or fingerprint.

Locked chats, as shown in the screenshot, will be stored separately from other chats. This implies that locked conversations will have their own dedicated space, though it’s unclear whether they will also be visible at the top of the Chats tab screen, like archived chats.

WABetaInfo notes that this feature isn’t live for anyone yet, including beta testers, since it’s still under development. When it becomes public, the feature will supposedly be available for both one-on-one and group chats.

In addition to locking specific chats, the new privacy tool is said to keep media files in locked conversations from being automatically saved to your local gallery.

Over the last year, WhatsApp has made a number of small but significant privacy improvements in order to stay ahead of some of the most popular messaging apps. Last August, the platform added the ability to hide a user’s online status from contacts and block screenshots for certain messages. Other privacy-focused features, such as ephemeral voice chats, are also rumored to be in the works.

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