WhatsApp has released an update for the popular messaging platform, notching up security a bit. The app will, by default, discriminate who sees your ‘last seen’ status. Previously, anybody could see it by default, but after this update, only people in your contact list and those you have chatted with will see the last time you were online.
The new feature was reported by a Twitter user who was in contact with Whatsapp support. He posted what appears to be an email from Whatsapp that explains the feature, saying, “We’re making it harder for people you don’t know and haven’t chatted with from seeing your last seen and online presence on WhatsApp.”
The purpose of ‘last seen’ is to let people know if you are online, and if not, the last time you were online.
While the feature might look like a harmless way of tracking acquaintances, WABetaInfo claims it has been exploited by some third-party apps. The apps can pull the online statuses of users, allowing any actor to track targets unnecessarily. But you can prevent this behavior by turning on the ‘My Contacts’ option as it prevents apps from accessing your online status.
The option for ‘My Contact’ to see ‘last seen’ status has been on WhatsApp for a while, but Whatsapp is now making it the default option. This effectively changes who can see your ‘last seen’ because few users will go into the settings to change it.
The ‘Nobody’ option is still there, ensuring nobody sees your ‘last seen’ update.
There might be more changes to the ‘last seen’ option, as WABetaInfo reported that Whatsapp is testing another option; ‘My Contacts Except…’. This option will allow you to block certain individuals from seeing your ‘last seen’ status.
Also, if you don’t want your messages to stay long, you can make disappearing messaging the default for all your chats. These features show Whatsapp is still prioritizing user privacy on its platform.
Whatsapp is used by billions of people daily and is owned by Meta (previously known as Facebook).
In other news related to another platform owned by Meta, Instagram simply can’t help copying features from the popular video-sharing app, TikTok. The latest option Instagram is lifting is what it calls Reels Visual Replies. It is coming in the recent update to the app.
This new feature allows Reels users to reply to a video with videos of their own. The visual reply will appear as a sticker.
Announcing the feature on Twitter, the official Instagram handle wrote:
“We love the communities that creators have built on Instagram. That’s why we’re excited to launch Reels Visual Replies, a new feature to interact with your audience. You can now reply to comments with Reels, and the comment will pop up as a sticker.”
TikTok had added the feature last year, giving its users more options in formulating their replies to videos. The feature immediately became popular, and it was a matter of time before Instagram added it to its own platform.
Instagram has, however, added new features not inspired by TikTok. It has the Playback option that lets the user select about ten stories to share with their followers. The criteria to use this feature is to have posted at least three stores during the year or to have Stories Archive enabled. You will get suggestions for the stories to include in your playback, but you can also select yours.
Another update is the Rage Shake, which the social media platform hopes you never use. It lets a user report a problem with the app by shaking their phone.
One more notable feature is ‘Take a Break’ that reminds users to take a break from the Instagram app. The feature is in testing and will make you go on 10, 20, or 30 minutes timeouts. While Instagram head Adam Mosseri opposes the idea that Instagram could cause addiction issues, the ‘Take a Break’ feature is clearly designed to help prevent over-using the app.