WhatsApp is introducing a new feature that will allow users to lock and hide conversations.
Chat Lock will enable people to place chat threads into a new folder that can only be accessed by a password or biometric input such as a fingerprint or facial recognition.
Meta, which owns WhatsApp, said it will protect people’s most “intimate conversations” while adding “one more layer of security”.
The feature will also remove the chat threads from any notifications.
Confirming the news in a Facebook post, Meta CEO said: “New locked chats in WhatsApp make your conversations more private. They’re hidden in a password-protected folder and notifications won’t show sender or message content.”
The company said it will start rolling out the feature now, with more options to come later.
In a blog post, the company wrote: “We think this feature will be great for people who have reason to share their phones from time to time with a family member or those moments where someone else is holding your phone at the exact moment an extra special chat arrives.”
It added: “Over the next few months we’re going to be adding more options for Chat Lock, including locking for companion devices and creating a custom password for your chats so that you can use a unique password different from the one you use for your phone.”
The app is known for its end-to-end encryption, which prevents anyone but the intended recipient from receiving the message.
In April, its chief executive joined Signal and other encrypted chat apps to protest the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill.
They say it could effectively outlaw end-to-end encryption.
They wrote: “The bill provides no explicit protection for encryption and if implemented as written, could empower Ofcom to try to force the proactive scanning of private messages on end-to-end encrypted communication services, nullifying the purpose of end-to-end encryption as a result and compromising the privacy of all users.
“In short, the bill poses an unprecedented threat to the privacy, safety and security of every UK citizen and the people with whom they communicate around the world, while emboldening hostile governments who may seek to draft copycat laws.”
The UK Government has dismissed this claim, saying the new law would retain privacy while improving protection for children’s safety online.
A spokesperson said: “Tech companies we believe have a moral duty to ensure they are not blinding themselves and law enforcement to unprecedented levels of child sexual abuse. We support strong encryption. This cannot come at the cost of public safety.
“It does not represent a ban on end-to-end encryption, nor will it require services to weaken encryption. It will not introduce routine scanning of private communication. This is a targeted power to use only when necessary. And whether other measures cannot be used.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country