WhatsApp’s launched another privacy protection feature, with its new ‘Chat Lock’ option enabling users to move private chats out of their main inbox, and into their own, password-protected folder in the app.
As shown in the video, one of the main use cases for Chat Lock is people who share their phone with others, like family members, which is fairly common in some regions. In developing markets like India, for example, lower-middle class families often only have one device that’s shared by the family, with parents and siblings splitting time.
In situations like this, having the capacity to lock down certain chats could be a big benefit, and could provide more privacy for WhatsApp users.
As explained by WhatsApp:
“Locking a chat takes that thread out of the inbox and puts it behind its own folder that can only be accessed with your device password or biometric, like a fingerprint. It also automatically hides the contents of that chat in notifications, too.”
Even for non-sharing families, this could have a range of benefits. If you often leave your device where others can see it, there may be sensitive, private chats that you don’t want anyone else to see, with this new process keeping message previews hidden, while there are various other reasons why users may want an additional layer of privacy for specific chats.
Users will be able to lock a chat by tapping the name of a one-to-one or group discussion and selecting the lock option.
“To reveal these chats, slowly pull down on your inbox and enter your phone password or biometric.”
WhatsApp also notes that it’ll release more features for Chat Lock over the coming months, including variable passwords for each chat, providing more ways to maintain privacy within the app.
It’s probably not a major innovation for most WhatsApp users, but it could have specific value in a range of cases, with even bigger potential for those who do share a device.
Chat Lock is available in the latest version of WhatsApp.