WhatsApp is reportedly working on a feature to allow group admins to delete messages for any user in the group, as spotted by a feature tracker. The world’s most widely used messaging service is said to be developing a moderation feature that is supported on rival messaging service Telegram, which similarly allows admins to remove messages by group members. WhatsApp is yet to announce details of such a feature, which is expected to arrive in upcoming beta versions of WhatsApp for Android and iOS.
According to a screenshot shared by WhatsApp feature tracker WABetaInfo, the Meta-owned messaging service is working on a feature to allow group admins to delete messages from any group member. The screenshot shows a deleted message in a WhatsApp chat, with a placeholder message that states “This was deleted by an admin, WABetaInfo” to inform group members that a message was removed. WhatsApp rival Telegram also allows group admins to delete messages from any user — but does not display a placeholder message.
The upcoming ability to delete all messages could serve as a powerful moderation tool in WhatsApp groups, especially to curb instances of fake news or harmful content on the messaging service. The Bombay High Court and the Madras High Court have previously held that WhatsApp group admins were not liable for objectionable content posted to a group. Last year, the Bombay High Court noted that group admins had only limited powers of adding or deleting members to the group and does not have the power to regulate or censor the content posted in the group.
At the moment, there is no word on whether group admins will be able to delete older messages in a group. Users can currently delete their own messages in chats or groups within 4,096 seconds — one hour, eight minutes and 16 seconds. However, WhatsApp might expand the limits to delete messages in a group for admins, allowing them to tackle older messages posted by users in a group. As previously mentioned, WhatsApp is yet to officially reveal plans to add such a feature to the messaging app.