WhatsApp introduces privacy-protecting option to hide online status
Like all messaging apps and services, WhatsApp has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. For many people, the end-to-end encryption the app offers is a major draw, although being owned by Meta requires some users to hold their noses while they use it.
But among the great things about WhatsApp are the speed at which its developers work, and their willingness to listen to -- and act upon -- user feedback. And it is user demand for greater privacy options that has driven the addition of online status control for beta users.
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WhatsApp has had its fair share of privacy-related controversy over the years, including annoyance at the tick icon system that indicates whether messages have been delivered and read. But there have also long been complaints from people who do not want their contacts to be able to see when they are online.
In the latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android, this concern has been addressed with the arrival of options for limiting who is able to see your online status.
News of the additional controls was shared by WABetaInfo on Twitter:
As you can see in the tweeted screenshot the new settings give you the option of limiting who is able to see when you were last online. There is also the option to limit who is able to see your online status, but the same fine-tuning is not available. While there are several options for controlling who can see your "last seen" status -- Everyone, My contact, My contacts except or Nobody -- when it comes to your online status you only have the choice between allowing everyone to see this information, or opt to use the same settings as for "last seen".
It might not be perfect, but it's a step in the right direction.
For now, as WABetaInfo points out, there is no word on when this handy privacy feature will get a wider rollout, but for many users this day can simply not come soon enough.