WhatsApp has begun rolling out the “undo send” feature into the latest version of the app. Simply hold down on a message, and press delete, then “delete for everyone”. This will only work for seven minutes after you send (up from five in previous tests) and will only vanish for those also rocking the latest version. It leaves a horribly guilty-looking trace, like this:
…or this, from the other side.
I’m not just part of a small test group here – it’s been officially written about on the WhatsApp website too, so hang in there if the feature isn’t with you yet.
I’m sure this will prove very popular, but I don’t think it’s half as useful as it seems at a glance for a number of reasons:
- You only have seven 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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