The Facebook-owned chat app WhatsApp includes a feature that shows when someone was last seen online. It’s handy for giving your contacts an idea of how long they’re likely to be waiting for a reply, for example, but not everyone is a fan: some feel it puts pressure on them to reply within a certain timeframe – “you were online yesterday, why didn’t you get back to me?” – or gives away more personal information than they are happy to disclose.
Currently, you can choose whether to show this Last Seen status to all users, only your contacts, or nobody. But there’s no way to show it only to certain contacts… until now. Or imminently, based on what we know about WhatsApp’s development activity.
WABetaInfo reports that the latest beta version of WhatsApp for iOS now has a new option for who can see your Last Seen status, as well as your profile picture and About info: ‘My contacts except…’ As the name suggests, this lets you begin by granting the relevant data to all of your contacts, but then disable the permission on a per-contact basis.
As usual, your privacy setting will be implemented in a reciprocal/symmetrical way: if you turn off Last Seen for a contact, you won’t be able to see that contact’s status either, no matter what their setting is.
WhatsApp often tests new features in the open beta version of the app, but it’s difficult to predict how long we’ll have to wait before a given feature is officially released. As it currently appears in the iOS beta and not the Android demo, it is possible, but not certain, that it will come to iOS first.
Note too that WhatsApp, much like Facebook, sometimes announces or otherwise reveals upcoming changes as a way of testing the water, and then withdraws or delays them if the reaction is negative. Earlier this year, for instance, WhatsApp
postponed unpopular privacy changes.
This article originally appeared on
M3. Translation and additional reporting by David Price.