Enlarge image

WhatsApp: Even for people "in a dangerous situation"


Francis Mascarenhas / REUTERS

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday unveiled a new feature for WhatsApp that allows users to hide certain chats. According to an official announcement, they can create secret codes that work like separate passwords. Chats that are protected with it will only appear when the secret code is typed into the search bar.

The function is intended as an extension of the so-called chat lock, which WhatsApp had already introduced in May. With it, chats can be moved to a separate folder and only retrieved when they are unlocked with the device's password – such as the PIN code on a mobile phone – or with biometric data, such as fingerprints. The feature is "particularly suitable for people who share their phone with other family members from time to time," the company said. Of course, these other people are not allowed to know the PIN.

Enlarge image

New WhatsApp feature

Photo: WhatsApp

The secret codes now represent an additional option to "protect such chats and make them harder to find if other people have access to your phone or if you share the phone with someone," according to a statement from WhatsApp. In addition, the function is intended for users "in a dangerous situation" in which they need additional protection. The Meta subsidiary refers to a study that examines, among other things, the need to protect members of the LGBTQ+ community in countries where they are persecuted and their devices are evaluated as evidence.

To block a new or older chat, users have to tap their finger on the conversation on their smartphone for a longer period of time, then they are offered the option to choose. There is no need to make any changes to the general chat settings.

The secret codes will be introduced from today, Thursday, and are expected to be available worldwide in the coming months.