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WhatsApp disappearing messages will self-destruct after 7 days

Declutter your chats with vanishing messages.

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Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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These WhatsApp messages will self-destruct in seven days.

Angela Lang/CNET

Ever look back through your WhatsApp chats and find it filled with endless messages that really don't need to be kept? The messaging app is going to help you clean out the clutter with new disappearing messages that vanish after a week.

You'll be able to turn the setting on and off, so you can still find important information that you've sent or received. And you can keep hold of heartwarming messages from friends and family. But you'll no longer have to hunt for those keepers amid lengthy conversations about what you were having for dinner six months ago or the same endless argument about whose turn it was to feed the cat.

Ephemeral messages are designed to be more secure as well as reducing clutter. They're similar to Snapchat photos -- which disappear when they're viewed once -- but WhatsApp's version stick around for a full week. The company, which is owned by Facebook, has said that it will keep an eye on the feature and could adjust the time limit.

Messages will only start disappearing after you turn on the setting, and the ones already on your phone won't go anywhere.

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For my next trick, WhatsApp will make these messages... disappear!

WhatsApp

If it's a chat between you and someone else, either one of you can make messages disappear. In a group chat, only the admin can make messages evaporate. Remember that messages can still be copied or screenshotted during the seven days they hang around, and images or videos will still stay on your phone's storage. The technicalities are laid out in a blog post by WhatsApp here.

Disappearing messages will be available in your WhatsApp app for iPhone and iOS sometime in November.