WhatsApp just introduced several important privacy features including the online status blocking option it recently showed in beta, TechCrunch has reported. The aim is to eventually make WhatsApp "as private and secure as face-to-face conversations," Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.
The new "online presence control" feature allows you to send messages while appearing to be offline. That offers another level of privacy over the ability to hide your "last seen" status from specific contacts, a feature introduced earlier this year.
You can control the feature in a granular way, deciding which contacts can view your online status and which can't. There are no limits, and you can swap people in and out at any time. The feature will roll out to all users across desktop and mobile, later this month.
WhatsApp is also testing screenshot blocking for view once messages that disappear after a single view. When those messages were introduced last year, Meta said that you should still take caution as you wouldn't know if someone screenshotted them. A new feature that lets you block such screenshots is now in testing, but the company hopes to get it to all users "soon."
With the final change, you can leave leave groups privately without sending out a mass notification to everyone else that you're gone — though group admins will still be notified. That should save some awkwardness when it rolls out to the desktop and mobile apps, also later this month.