Being a guinea pig for a tech giant’s trial run in a Beta update is more often than not, not fun.
Remember when Instagram made it ridiculously hard for some users to share posts for seemingly no good reason?
Like c’mon, just let me share that meme.
Anyway, WhatsApp is testing out a new feature that enables users to hide their Online/Offline status, and let’s just say everyones wants to be selected as a Beta user now.
Feature as Part of WhatsApp’s Ongoing User Privacy Protection Efforts
WhatsApp has consistently worked to add new features and enhance existing ones over the years, such as expanding group chat functionality, providing group admins more control, and making chats more interactive.
CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, unveiled three distinct WhatsApp features centred on user privacy in order to ramp up current efforts and reiterate the company’s commitment to user privacy.
Non-notified exits from group chats were rolled out in August of this year, users were also prevented from taking screenshots of view-once media, and masking your online status.
That was also when the possibility of letting users hide their online status was announced.
It’s been made known recently that this particular feature has made some decent progress.
Beta Users Can Selectively Reveal Their Online Status to Contacts
For most of us, the privacy controls currently only apply to one’s “Last Seen” status. Now, Beta users are reporting that they are able to vary the privacy settings for their online status on the WhatsApp version 18.104.22.168 update on Android.
This was also earlier spotted on certain iOS users’ devices back in July and was tested on Android subsequently, which is also coincidentally the first time something new can be seen from Apple firs—
Apple users don’t come at me.
As you can see, in the latest beta, options are available in the WhatsApp’s settings page to enable users to choose who can see when they are online and when they were last seen on the app.
By clicking on the Gear Icon > Account > Privacy > Last Seen and Online, users can pick from four options for who can see their status:
- My Contacts
- My Contacts except specific users
- Nobody (which is perfect if you’re intending to go AWOL forever)
However, it’s worth noting that users were restricted to having their “Online status” controls mirror whatever they selected earlier in the “Last seen status” section.
WhatsApp also cautions users that if they choose to hide their last seen and online status, they won’t be able to view others’ status either, the same way it works for the “blue tick” read receipts.
The new beta feature will be rolling out to users for testing in phases. Currently, both the 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199 version seem to have this feature on select devices.
We’ll have to wait and see if this setting becomes a permanent feature on the app eventually. If not, we’re guessing many cheaters will be pretty bummed out.
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