WhatsApp Rolls Out ‘Secret Codes’ Privacy for Locked Chats

After introducing the Chat Lock feature in May, WhatsApp has added something called “secret code,” for an additional layer of privacy protection for extremely sensitive conversations. A secret code makes sensitive chats “harder to find if someone has access to your phone or you share a phone with someone else,” the Meta Platforms subsidiary says. With a secret code, users can set a unique password — different from that which normally unlocks the phone — to give locked chats an extra layer of privacy. An additional option allows the Locked Chats folder to be hidden from the general chatlist.

That means the Locked Chats folder itself can require the secret code to be seen, WhatsApp explains in a blog post introducing the new feature. “Whenever there’s a new chat which you want to lock, you can now long press to lock it rather than visiting the chat’s settings.” Those who don’t need such secrecy can still elect to have locked chats appear in the chatlist.

“Your secret code can include letters, numbers, special characters and emojis,” TechCrunch explains, adding that “the idea behind the feature is to prevent people who have access to your phone from even knowing you have a locked chats folder.”

According to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the extra security layer helps ensure “no one can ‘unintentionally’ discover your most private conversations.”

“The launch of the new feature comes a few weeks after WhatsApp rolled out a new Discord-like voice chat feature for large groups called ‘Voice Chats,’” TechCrunch reports, describing the new feature as “designed to be less disruptive than a group call, which rings every member in a group.”

Meta has begun rolling out secret codes in the U.S., and The Verge says “they’ll be available globally in the coming months.”

The launch of secret code “follows other updates in the texting space this month, including Apple’s announcement that its iMessages app will support the RCS standard sometime in 2024 — a development that may improve texting between iPhone and Android devices by providing the potential for modern features like typing indicators and high-quality media sharing,” writes CNET.

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