You can now turn on disappearing messages by default and pick whether you want a message to fade after one, seven or 90 days.
Alexandra GarrettAssociate Editor
Alexandra is an associate editor on CNET's Performance Optimization team. She graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, and interned with CNET's Tech and News teams while in school. Prior to joining CNET full time, Alexandra was a breaking news fellow at Newsweek, where she covered current events and politics.
When you enable the feature, every one-on-one chat that you or someone else starts will be set to disappear after your chosen amount of time: 24 hours, seven days or 90 days. The app is also adding the option to turn on disappearing messages when you create a group chat.
The feature is optional and doesn't alter or delete any of your existing chats, according to WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook's parent company Meta. But when you have disappearing messages turned on, WhatsApp will display a message in your chats that tells people this is the default option you've picked.
Here's how you can turn on disappearing messages by default for all new individual chats.
How to make your WhatsApp messages disappear by default
Whether you're using WhatsApp on an iPhone or Android, turning on default disappearing messages seems to take just a few steps. According to WhatsApp's help page about disappearing messages, after you open the app and go to Settings (it's located in the bottom right corner of the screen), tap Account, then Privacy and finally Default message timer. From there you can turn on disappearing messages and select how long you would like to wait until messages fade.
WhatsApp stresses you should only use disappearing messages with trusted individuals. Although the app makes your messages vanish after a set amount of time, it's possible the person you're chatting with can forward, copy, save or take a screenshot of the message before it disappears.
WhatsApp introduced disappearing messages in November 2020. The feature originally worked for individual chats only, and the duration of time before the message disappeared was seven days. Earlier this year, WhatsApp added View Once, a feature that causes videos and pictures to vanish from a chat after they've been opened.