Since 2017, WhatsApp users have had the ability to ‘unsend’ messages, thanks to the app’s ‘Delete for Everyone’ feature.
The feature lets you unsend messages and photos within 1 hour, 8 minutes and 6 seconds of sending them.
If you’ve used the feature to unsend an embarrassing photo, you might think that your image is safe, but a new flaw indicates that this may not be the case.
App security consultant, Shitesh Sachan, has revealed a flaw in WhatsApp to The Hacker News , which means that the feature doesn’t delete media files sent to iPhone users as it does from Android devices.
This means that your photo will have saved to your recipient’s iPhone, even if you can see the ‘This message has been deleted’ message in your WhatsApp chat.
The flaw only works if the recipient has WhatsApp’s default settings on, which means that photos and videos are automatically saved your iPhone’s Camera Roll.
We tested this out for ourselves by sending a photo via WhatsApp to an iPhone with the default settings applied, before deleting the photo in the chat.
As predicted, the photo still appeared in the iPhone’s Camera Roll, despite the fact that it was not opened on WhatsApp.
While Mr Sachan reported the issue to WhatsApp, the firm refused to address the issue.
WhatsApp said: “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 in WhatsApp."
A WhatsApp spokesperson added: "This feature is working properly, and using the 'delete for everyone' feature in time will result in media being removed from the WhatsApp chat thread.
"We provide simple options to help iPhone users manage the media they receive from friends and family, per the best practices established by operating systems.
"If a user chooses to save images to their camera roll they are stored out of reach of WhatsApp’s 'delete for everyone feature.'"
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