WhatsApp's latest update stops spammers targeting you – here's how to use it

WhatsApp group chat privacy controls
(Image credit: WhatsApp)

With a massive global userbase, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is a great way to stay in touch with friends, family and colleague. One of the most useful features of the app is group chat, enabling you to share message, photos and more with several people at once. But group chat is also open to abuse.

Or at least it was. After introducing new controls in India, WhatsApp is now implementing new privacy controls for users around the world. An update to the iOS and Android versions of the app is rolling out now, and it allows you to choose who is able to add you to a group chat.

Until now it was possible for anyone to add anyone else to a chat – something which was abused to send spam messages and links to scam sites. But now you can be more discerning about who can add you to chats.

How to protect yourself

Within the settings of the updated version of the app, there are three options to choose from that can be used to tailor things to meet your privacy needs.

Head to 'Settings > Account > Privacy > Groups' to see the available settings. If you select 'Everyone', nothing will change, and anyone will be able to add you to a group chat. Select 'My contacts' and only people in your address book will be able to add you. The final option is 'My contacts except', which lets you prevent certain contacts from being able to add you to chats.

This last option was previously 'Nobody', but WhatsApp decided to give people greater control over their settings. It's still possible to block everyone from adding to you to group chats by activating the 'My contacts except' option and then selecting all of your contacts.

While the new privacy option is being made available immediately, the rollout is a gradual process, so you might not see it for a day or two.

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Sofia Elizabella Wyciślik-Wilson
Freelance writer

Sofia is a tech journalist who's been writing about software, hardware and the web for nearly 25 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.

You can find her on Twitter and Mastodon.