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WhatsApp’s new locked chats will keep your conversations safe from prying eyes

 Two phones on a green background showing WhatsApp's locked chats feature
Two phones on a green background showing WhatsApp's locked chats feature

WhatsApp is currently rolling out a new Chat Lock feature that will ensure your private conversations stay that way.

The Chat Lock update takes chat threads and places them behind their own locked folder which can only be accessed via your device’s own password or biometrics. Additionally, the content of those conversations will be hidden in your notifications so nosy people can't see what you're talking about.

Meta states in the announcement post that Chat Lock is ideal for people who share an unlocked smartphone with family, or, as shown in the official trailer, have their device stolen by their annoying, little brother.

To enable the protection, all you have to do is tap the name of the chat and select the locking option. To reveal those chats, “pull down on your inbox” then enter your password or biometric in order to unlock them. Pretty simple stuff.

There are plans to expand Chat Lock options “over the next few months”. Meta states it’ll be possible to lock your conversations on companion devices. Plus, users will soon be able to create custom passwords for the chat that differ from the ones on their smartphones.

As for the launch, the post doesn’t say whether or not this is a global rollout nor does it mention anything about being able to use Face ID to unlock chats. We reached out to Meta for clarification. This story will be updated if we hear back.

Chat Lock feature on WhatsApp
Chat Lock feature on WhatsApp

Room for improvement

Chat Lock joins WhatsApp’s long list of security features from Device Verification to end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication, but that doesn’t mean things are perfect. There's always room for improvement as every now and again something goes wrong.

In this instance, we’re specifically referring to a recently discovered bug that allows WhatsApp to continuously use a phone’s microphone even if the app is closed. This was first discovered by a Twitter engineer who posted a screenshot of the app using the mic at least nine times in the early morning of May 6.

Meta is aware of this but claims it isn’t their fault. Instead, the official WhatsApp Twitter account points the finger at Google, claiming there’s a bug in the Privacy Dashboard on Android. Regardless of whose fault it is, we do recommend turning off your microphone through your device’s settings menu to ensure complete privacy.

But if that doesn’t satisfy you, check out TechRadar’s list of the best-encrypted messaging apps of 2023 for alternatives.