WhatsApp ‘delete for everyone’ feature that is designed to wipe off all accidental text and media file sent across the messaging platform may still leave traces behind after all
The ‘delete for everyone’ feature arrived on Whatsapp not long ago, and while it has proven to be very helpful since its arrival, it was discovered recently that it potentially puts users privacy at risk. Although, this may not be applicable to all WhatsApp users.
According to a tech expert/ researcher, Shitesh Sachan, the delete for everyone feature may, however, still leave traces behind for iPhone users, specifically the media files. In other words, even after deleting accidental messages, the media file that was initially sent may still remain on the device’s internal storage.
WhatsApp 'Delete for Everyone' Doesn't Delete Media Files Sent to iPhone Usershttps://t.co/QlJbo5YkVY
— Shitesh Sachan (@shiteshsachan) September 17, 2019
Sachan said that “media files sent to iPhone users in group chats (who have enabled the ‘Save to Camera Roll’ setting) will remain on the device.” – a process that is contradictory to that of Android devices that wipe of data from both the platform and the device’s storage (Photo Gallary).
The whole security flaw, however, goes down to the security layers imposed by Apple, which is preventing an app accessing a device gallery without explicit permission to do so. And here, privacy protection battles privacy protection, because Apple’s security layer is actually a good thing. Android doesn’t offer the same firewalls—“Delete for Everyone” will work just fine on their devices.
While the difference means lapses from the end of WhatsApp, it could as well give a false sense of privacy to Android users unfamiliar with the way the feature works on iOS devices, who may now have doubts in the functionality of the feature. Imagine deleting a media file and still find out that traces were still left at the end of the recipient.
After contacting WhatsApp to inform them of the supposed flaw, Sachan was told by a company spokesperson that the feature offers no guarantee that the media files will be purged beyond the app, which means devices, especially iPhones could still hold some of the accidental media files you thought were wiped off.
“The functionality provided via ‘Delete for Everyone’ is intended to delete the message and there is no guarantee that the media (or message) will be permanently deleted —the implementation focuses around the message presence on WhatsApp,” a spokesperson told the researcher.
In the meantime, it would be great if WhatsApp provides some form of warning with respect to the iPhone issue until it is fixed if perhaps the social media giant chooses to, especially when the company appears to have no immediate plans to adjust the issue.