2019. WhatsApp adds new group messaging privacy settings
WhatsApp has rolled out a new common sense privacy setting that may also make it more difficult for harmful content to spread through the platform. Starting Wednesday, WhatsApp users will be able to specify who is able to add them to groups, and to accept or reject invitations sent through DMs. Now, in WhatsApp's settings, users can choose whether "Everyone," "My Contacts," or "Nobody" can automatically add them to groups. Users can navigate to the settings through Account > Privacy > Groups. You can choose to reject or accept those invitations with an expiration of 72 hours.
2018. WhatsApp launched encrypted group video calls
WhatsApp has supported video calling since 2016, but calls were, until now, limited to two participants. With the latest change, the app is upping its support to four total participants. That's a fairly modest increase, particularly compared to other services. Facebook Messenger supports group video calls of up to 50, while Skype supports 25 participants. But the feature is likely more challenging for WhatsApp than some of its competitors. Its video calls, like other messages sent within the app, are end-to-end encrypted by default, for one thing. The company also needs to ensure new features are optimized for people with slower connections and older devices.
2017. WhatsApp enabled two-factor authentication for everyone
WhatsApp is making two-factor verification possible for all of its one billion plus users. By using a passcode to verify your phone number it decreases the likelihood a WhatsApp account can be accessed by a third party. WhatsApp, which has been heavily criticised for sharing user information with the Facebook family of companies, says providing it with your email address will allow for two-step verification to be turned off if the passcode is forgotten. WhatsApp says two-step verification is an optional feature. To turn it on, make sure you have the latest version of the app, and go to Settings. From settings, visit account, then two-step verification and press enable.
2016. Viber adds end-to-end encryption and hidden chats
Following WhatsApp, another popular messaging app Viber is introducing end-to-end encryption for all messages and calls on its platform, including group chats (you can chat with up to 200 people), and a way to ‘hide’ chats on your account alongside its existing expanded deleting function. The new privacy features will work across Android, iOS, PCs and Mac desktops, with the encryption coming with the latest app update (6.0) and a reauthentication of the app (via QR Code) to turn the feature on. Viber’s encryption will come with varying levels of security, which will show up in the form of a color-coded lock on the right side of the screen.
2016. WhatsApp now supports full end-to-end encryption
Facebook owned messenger WhatsApp has now fully implemented strong end-to-end encryption on its platform and across all mobile platforms for which it offers apps. End-to-end encryption means the content of communications are not stored in plaintext on WhatsApp’s servers. Nor is the company able to decrypt users’ messages to access them since it does not hold the encryption keys. So WhatsApp will be unable to be compelled to hand over messaging data — even if served with a warrant by authorities demanding access. WhatsApp partnered with Open Whisper Systems and has integrated its widely respected end-to-end encryption Signal Protocol. Although the completion of default end-to-end encryption is a hugely important security milestone for the WhatsApp platform, it does not mean that from here on in every communication sent via the app is end-to-end encrypted, because that’s reliant on all users being upgraded to the latest version of the software.