WhatsApp has implemented a new privacy setting based on common sense that can also make it more difficult to deliver harmful content to the platform. Starting Wednesday, WhatsApp users will be able to specify who can add them to groups and accept or decline invitations sent via DM.
Now, in the WhatsApp settings, users can choose whether "Everyone", "My Contacts" or "Person" can automatically add them to groups. Users can access settings through Account> Privacy> Groups.
The labels are a little misleading, though; selecting "My contacts" or "Person" does not mean that only contacts or "person" can send you invitations to a group. Instead, it makes users invite you to a group, which you can accept or decline, rather than automatically adding you. (Quite wild that no stranger can automatically add you to a group before, TBH!)
For people who select "My Contacts", only contacts can add you to groups. For people outside the contacts or for people who have selected "Person", users must invite you to join a group via DM.
"" Person "means that you must approve the membership of each group you are invited to, and" My Contacts "means that only users in your address book can add you to groups," says WhatsApp in a statement.
You can choose to refuse or accept invitations that expire after 72 hours.
WhatsApp groups are a popular way for users to communicate and, increasingly, share and consume news on Facebook's social network. This has become problematic in places like India, where large group discussions and transfers have allowed the dissemination of malicious content and false information, which has led to real violence.
Along with the Indian government, WhatsApp is trying to improve digital literacy among its users, teaching skepticism about the content they might receive from unknown sources. Giving users the choice to limit the communication of people that users do not actually have in their contacts could help with this effort. This could also prevent robots or other fake accounts from using groups to broadcast content.
Facebook is currently trying to consolidate its internal messaging infrastructure between WhatsApp, Instagram DM and Facebook Messenger. Today's changes bring WhatsApp closer to Messenger, where users have separate inboxes for people they know and do not know.
Zuckerberg has also tried to make Facebook a privacy-conscious company (lol) by putting more emphasis on private messaging. Given the efforts to unify the platforms and the new directive from the CEO, we could witness a greater effort to give users more control over unsolicited messaging across the Facebook properties. .