WhatsApp Adds ‘Chat Lock’ To Secure ‘Intimate’ Messages

WhatsApp is adding another layer of security for users, by giving them the ability to lock and hide certain sensitive conversations.

Meta and WhatsApp in a blog post described ‘Chat Lock’ as a tool to make a user’s most intimate conversations even more private – leading some to flag the feature as a tool to help cheating spouses.

But WhatsApp is doubling down on privacy of late. Last month WhatsApp and six other providers of end-to-end encrypted messaging services urged the UK government to “urgently rethink” the Online Safety Bill.

WhatsApp Chat Lock.
Image credit Meta Platforms

Chat Lock

They said the UK’s Online Safety Bill presents an “unprecedented threat to the privacy, safety and security” of UK citizens and those they communicate with around the world.

Indeed Signal and Meta previously warned they will not comply with any UK law that requires them to remove end-to-end encryption on their respective messaging platforms.

And now WhatsApp has said that the new ‘Chat Lock’ comes at it seeks to “find new ways to help keep your messages private and secure. Today, we’re excited to bring to you a new feature we’re calling Chat Lock, which lets you protect your most intimate conversations behind one more layer of security.”

WhatsApp said that locking a chat takes that thread out of the inbox and puts it behind its own folder that can only be accessed with a user’s device password or biometric data (fingerprint/facial recognition etc).

Chat Lock also automatically hides the contents of that chat in notifications, too.

“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,” said WhatsApp.

“You can lock a chat by tapping the name of a one-to-one or group and selecting the lock option,” it said. “To reveal these chats, slowly pull down on your inbox and enter your phone password or biometric.”

Cheating tool?

The messaging service said that over the next few months it is going to be adding more options for Chat Lock, including locking for companion devices and creating a custom password for a user’s chats so they can use a unique password which is different from the one used for the phone itself.

WhatsApp offered the following video showing how to use Chat Lock, available here.

However in Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook post about WhatsApp’s Chat Lock, a number of users commented that the feature would be a useful tool for cheating partners or spouses.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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