WhatsApp users will be able to guard their “most intimate conversations” with a new password protected feature to hide messages, parent company Meta has said.
Chat Lock will allow individuals to “lock and hide” private exchanges by removing them from the main inbox into a folder only accessible by password or biometric security, such as a fingerprint.
Meta announced the development on Monday as the global launch began.
Chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post: “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.”
However the new privacy measures may intensify the stand-off between Meta and the UK government over the Online Safety Bill.
In April, Meta protested against the legislation, which it said would undermine the end-to-end encryption used by WhatsApp where only the sender and intended recipient of a message are able to read it.
The Government has denied the Bill would outlaw encrypted messaging, saying it aims to target child abuse content while retaining privacy online.
Tech companies who refuse to comply with the Government’s demands to identify and remove such content from their platforms could face large fines.
In response to this, Meta threatened to withdraw WhatsApp from the UK last March rather than submit to the proposed policies.