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Chat Lock Lets You Hide & Lock Chats

Let’s face it. Most of us use WhatsApp prolifically as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, sports groups, activities and clubs. Although I don’t know about you but sometimes I find some WhatsApp groups a real pain (no group names mentioned) 😊.

WhatsApp which was bought by Facebook (now Meta) in 2014 for a whopping 16 billion, now has over 2 billion active users worldwide.

You might recall our earlier blog on the WhatsApp disappearing message feature   –   Well according to a recent announcement on WhatsApp’s blog, ‘Chat Lock’ is a new feature for ‘making your most intimate conversations even more private’.

The new ‘Chat Lock’ feature is designed to give users an added layer of security when it comes to conversations on the app. This new feature moves the concept of privacy a notch higher, empowering you to take control of your personal online conversations like never before.

So, how does this feature work?

Chat Lock allows WhatsApp users to lock individual chats, effectively removing them from the inbox and placing them in their own folder.  This folder has its own additional security protected by your device password or biometric data – for example fingerprint or face ID. To lock a chat, all you need to do is tap the name of a one-to-one or group chat and select the lock option. Voila! Your chat is now securely tucked away.

Another interesting aspect of this feature – once you lock a chat, the contents are automatically hidden from notifications. This means that you won’t have to worry about prying eyes catching a glimpse of your private messages from the notification bar.

To unlock and access these chats, you have to slowly pull down on your inbox and enter your phone password or biometric data. The feature, in essence, creates a secondary layer of privacy, enhancing the overall security of your personal and group chats.

WhatsApp have said in their blog

‘We think this feature will be great for people who have reason to share their phones from time to time with a family member or those moments where someone else is holding your phone at the exact moment an extra special chat arrives’.

On testing this new feature, we noticed that while it’s available via WhatsApp on devices such as the iOS and Android apps it does not yet work on companion devices. For example – if you use WhatsApp via the web on your computer, the chat lock feature is not available.  WhatsApp is working on plans to extend the feature to companion devices meaning messages on these devices are also protected.

It’s worth noting that the roll out of this feature puts Meta in contention with the UK government’s Online Safety Bill. Meta argues that the proposed changes in the law could undermine end-to-end encryption and hence user privacy, a claim the government disputes, stating that the bill won’t require companies to break end-to-end encryption or monitor private communications routinely.

Charities such as the NSPCC support the aims of the bill, which has also received backing from a significant number of British adults. However, critics like Matthew Hodgson, CEO of messaging platform Element, argue that the bill could weaken national security and enable routine mass surveillance, which is something none of us want.

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Wayne Denner shares his knowledge & expertise on leading tech industry blog.

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