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WhatsApp will soon let you “unsend messages” before they’re read

 

The feature was spotted by WhatsApp beta tester WABetaInfo

Good news for those who text first and think later: WhatsApp is planning to act like an enabler and let you delete those messages after you send them.

As spotted by WhatsApp beta tester WABetaInfo, the feature will let you delete unread messages after sending them. No more learning lessons the hard way!

I’m sure this will be a very popular feature, but I don’t think it’s half as useful as it seems at a glance for a number of reasons:

  • You only have five minutes in which to delete regretted messages

If you’re in the habit of sending drunk text messages that you regret the next morning, this will be of no help at all.

  • You can’t delete it if the person has already seen it

On one level, this is kind of obvious, but on another it really highlights why the feature is a bit silly. It’s called “instant messaging” for a reason – the medium is designed for quick thoughts to be sent instantly.

  • Deleted messages still make you look like an idiot

Worse, when you delete a message, WhatsApp leaves a bloody great dunce cap to highlight your idiocy. “This message was deleted” it will say, but it may as well read “look which idiot can’t use a smartphone”. Or worse: “your needy ex left you a message, but was too much of a coward to let you read it”.

On one level, it’s quite impressive WhatsApp seems to have carried this skill across to notifications…

On the other, this is simply highlighting your embarrassing faux pas with a push notification: the smartphone equivalent of shouting it from the rooftops.

In other words, this isn’t half as effective as just proofreading your goddamned messages in the first place. WhatsApp is enabling your recklessness with this slightly lame get-out clause, and sparing you one of the digital world’s most important lessons: think before you type.

But if you really can’t be trusted not to embarrass yourself whenever you pick up a smartphone, maybe you should consider taking drastic action.

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