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WhatsApp will soon let you leave group chats on the sly

WhatsApp logo on iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Every WhatsApp user has been unwittingly added to a noisy group chat they want no part of, and while muting stops the constant buzz of notifications, leaving isn’t always an option. That’s because the app currently announces your departure to everyone else, potentially causing diplomatic incidents among friends and family.

No doubt those with a flair for dramatic exits relish the fact that WhatsApp announces their departure. But just as some would rather slip out of a house party without saying goodbye to everyone, plenty of us would like the ability to exit irrelevant or outdated group chats without triggering the drama alarm.

Meta — the company formerly known as Facebook, and owner of WhatsApp — has got the message, and will be adding the feature soon, 

“New privacy features coming to WhatsApp: exit group chats without notifying everyone, control who can see when you're online, and prevent screenshots on view once messages,” CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote (opens in new tab) in a Facebook post.

The other features mentioned are interesting too. Controlling who can see you’re online suggests you’ll be able to reply to messages without letting others know you’re actively using the app. 

And preventing screenshots of disappearing messages is so sensible that it’s surprising it wasn’t included from the get-go. Though for those sending risque or overly candid texts and pictures, remember that there’s nothing stopping unscrupulous receivers from taking a photo of the screen with another camera.

Nonetheless, these changes — along with the extended window for deleting messages announced yesterday — are all extremely welcome for those who both value their privacy (in as much as anybody with an internet-connected smartphone can) and want a quiet life, free from virtual drama.

“We'll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations,” Zuckerberg concluded.

It sounds like these will be opt-in features, rather than changing the way the app works for everybody. But we’ll have to wait and see how it’s integrated once the update starts to roll out. Even if it is the end of “Person Left” texts appearing in group chats, those who want a bit of drama can always drop an appropriately incendiary GIF on their way out…

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.