WhatsApp is giving its legions of users greater control over who can see data about them. As part of a move to protect people from unauthorized third-party apps, new privacy controls are rolling out.
If you've noticed that you have been unable to see the online status of businesses or contacts you are trying to connect with, these changes help to explain just why this is.
If you have never chatted with a particular account, you will not be able to see either their online status, or details of when they were last seen. The same is true of other people's – and apps' – ability to see information about you.
WhatsApp says of the changes that "to improve the privacy and security of our users, we're making it harder for people you don't know and haven't chatted with from seeing your last seen and online presence on WhatsApp."
To allay fear about the implications of the change, WhatsApp adds: "This will not change anything between you and your friends, family, and businesses who you know or have previously messaged".
Keep it private
On the face of things, this feels like quite a small change, but it's just one of a growing number of privacy and security tools available to WhatsApp users.
It also helps to close a fairly significant security loophole that was being used by some third-party tools. There are a number of apps available for download that can be used to track people's online status – or at least they could be used fore this purpose before WhatsApp introduced the changes.
For anyone who is concern about their privacy, but particularly anyone who has been a victim of cyberstalk, these changes are great news that will be warmly welcomed.
- These are the best laptops money can buy right now
Sign up to receive daily breaking news, reviews, opinion, analysis, deals and more from the world of tech.
Sofia is a tech journalist who's been writing about software, hardware and the web for nearly 20 years – but still looks as youthful as ever! After years writing for magazines, her life moved online and remains fueled by technology, music and nature.
Having written for websites and magazines since 2000, producing a wide range of reviews, guides, tutorials, brochures, newsletters and more, she continues to write for diverse audiences, from computing newbies to advanced users and business clients. Always willing to try something new, she loves sharing new discoveries with others.
Sofia lives and breathes Windows, Android, iOS, macOS and just about anything with a power button, but her particular areas of interest include security, tweaking and privacy. Her other loves include walking, music, her two Malamutes and, of course, her wife and daughter.