WhatsApp Now Allows Deletion of Sent Messages; What Will Be Legal Implications?
You can now delete any embarrassing messages that you have sent, even at the receiver's side.
Around 1 billion odd WhatsApp users globally send 55 billion messages, daily. A large proportion of these messages are unwanted, but as of now, deletion of these unwanted messages is only possible from the end of the sender.
The messages were always available at the other end.
However, from now on, sent and read messages can be deleted for ever, both from the users’ end and from the recipient’s end.
WhatsApp loyalists are terming this as a revolutionary and much-needed step, as Skype and other popular messengers always had this option. (Google Talk doesn’t have)
However, another question which pops up: How will this change legal implications of WhatsApp messages, in case they are presented as evidence in the Court of Law?
We try to find out..
Whatsapp’s Recall Message Option Is Live
Starting yesterday, WhatsApp has started global roll out of their recall feature, for everyone. It was rumored last year that Whatsapp may introduce this feature, but now, it is confirmed.
Right now, some users in Singapore and Spain have been able to use this feature, and very soon, Android, iOS and Windows users from all over the world would be able to delete sent messages from both the ends.
Right now, sent messages can be deleted only from the sender’s end, not from the recipient’s end. If the recipient wants, then they can delete it, but the sender cannot delete their message.
But with this new roll out of recall feature, the sender can delete both the copies of the messages.
WhatsApp has even updated their FAQ section for Android users, as the new instructions state:
“Deleting messages for everyone allows you to delete specific messages you have sent to either a group or an individual chat. This is particularly useful if you sent a message to the wrong chat or if the message you sent contains a mistake.”
Note here, that the sender can delete the message only within 7 minutes of sending it.
As per WhatsApp’s FAQ section, these are the instructions for deleting the sent message:
- Open WhatsApp and go to the chat containing the message you wish to delete.
- Tap and hold the message. Optionally, tap more messages to delete multiple messages at once.
- Tap Delete at the top of the screen > Delete for everyone.
Will It Change Legal Implications of WhatsApp Messages?
Whatsapp is one of the most heavily used messenger app, and the messages contains tons of secret information about any person.
And in case of a legal fight, say divorce, then WhatsApp messages were used as an evidence in the Court of Law.
However, in July this year, Delhi High Court ruled that WhatsApp messages cannot be used as evidence, in case the petitioners are unable to produce the original ‘document’.
This ruling came during the case of late Arunachal chief minister Kalikho Pul’s suicide.
The petitioners, who were National Lawyers Campaign For Judicial Transparency, nine lawyers and a law student had submitted the suicide note received via WhatsApp.
The Judge dismissed the evidence, and said that WhatsApp messages cannot be used as evidence.
Now, as WhatsApp has allowed the deletion of messages, the case becomes even more complex. What if the sender deletes the messages, but takes a screenshot of that before deletion?
Will that be used as an evidence? Considering that WhatsApp encrypts all messages, and refuse to store them, what if the Court asks them to reproduce deleted messages in case of a high profile litigation?
There are several questions, and the legal angle isn’t quite clear right now.
We have asked few legal experts on this issue, and will update you as soon as we get some answers.
Meanwhile, do share your opinion on WhatsApp allowing deletion of sent messages, by commenting right here!