How to Use WhatsApp Privacy Settings

Limit your visibility on this popular messaging platform

By default, WhatsApp allows anyone to see your read receipts, last seen time, about section, and profile photo. In addition, your contacts can see any status updates you make. You have full control over your WhatsApp privacy, so you can easily change any of these settings. And if anyone ever makes you feel uncomfortable, you can always block them.

The following instructions apply to iOS and Android WhatsApp users, although there are a few differences between the platforms. Screenshots are provided for the iOS version only.

How to Customize Your WhatsApp Privacy Settings

Every user has different requirements for their personal privacy. In WhatsApp, you can adjust and customize your Privacy settings from the Account page.

  1. Open WhatsApp, then, if you're on iOS, tap the Settings icon in the bottom menu. If you're on Android, tap the three vertical dots in the top right, and then tap Settings.

  2. Tap Account > Privacy.

  3. Tap Last Seen, Profile Photo, About, or Groups to limit their visibility. For each one of these features, you can set their visibility to just your contacts. Just tap My Contacts or tap Nobody to hide it entirely. Tap Privacy in the top left when you're done to go back to the previous screen.

    WhatsApp Privacy settings

    If you decide to limit your Last Seen setting so nobody sees it, you won't be able to see anyone else's either.

  4. Tap Status > My Contacts Except to prevent certain people from being able to see your status or tap Only Share With to select certain people who can see your status. Tap Privacy in the top left to go back to the previous page.

  5. If you allow WhatsApp to track your location and are sharing your location, you might want to stop sharing it across all chats. To do this, tap Live Location > Stop Sharing > Stop Sharing (iOS) or STOP (Android). Tap Privacy in the top left to go back.

    You can also turn off live location sharing in individual chats. Access the chat and tap Stop Sharing > Stop Sharing (iOS) or STOP (Android).

  6. Tap Blocked to manage the contacts you've blocked or want to block. To add a new blocked user, tap Add New and search or select their name from your contacts. Tap Privacy in the top left to go back.

  7. Tap the Read Receipts toggle to turn it off, which will prevent other users from being able to see when you read their messages.

    If you turn Read Receipts off, the setting will be turned off across the whole app for you so you won't be able to see when users have read your messages either (excluding group chats, which always have Read Receipts turned on).

How to Enable Two-Step Verification on WhatsApp

Two-step verification adds an extra layer of security to your account by asking you to verify your identity with a PIN number.

  1. If you're on an iOS device, tap Settings icon in the bottom menu. If you're on an Android device, tap the three vertical dots in the top right, then tap Settings.

  2. Tap Account > Two-Step Verification.

  3. Tap Enable.

    Turning on two-step verification
  4. Enter a six-digit PIN number that you'll be able to remember, which will be asked by WhatsApp whenever you register your phone number with the app. Tap Next in the top right when you're done.

  5. Confirm your PIN by entering it again.

  6. Enter your email address in case of emergency when you need to reset your PIN. Tap Next in the top right.

  7. Confirm your email address by entering it again, then tap Done in the top right.

  8. Two-step verification will be enabled on your device. You can access your Two-Step Verification tab within your settings any time to disable it, change your PIN or change your email address.

    Screenshots showing how to enable two-step verification in WhatsApp.

How to Turn On Disappearing Messages in WhatsApp

For extra privacy, you can set your messages in a chat to expire after a period of 24 hours, seven days, or 90 days. To use this feature with a particular chat, open the chat, and then tap the other person's name > Disappearing Messages > On and pick a duration.

Turning on Disappearing Messages for a chat in WhatsApp

You'll typically turn this feature on per chat, but you can make it the default by going to Settings > Account > Privacy > Default Message Timer and choosing how long you want your messages to stick around.

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