Clock icon in WhatsApp

WhatsApp tip: What the clock symbol on profile pictures means

For some WhatsApp contacts, a clock symbol can appear on the profile picture. We explain what it is and how you can use the function.

In the past few days, more and more users have discovered a clock symbol on the profile pictures of their WhatsApp contacts. This is the new "Expiring Messages" feature that has been available on WhatsApp since the beginning of November.

(Source: WhatsApp)

The clock symbol means that the function is activated in the chat with the respective contact. In this case, new messages will disappear from the chat after seven days. This also happens if a user does not open WhatsApp for seven days. "However, he may still see the preview of the message in the notifications until he opens WhatsApp," writes the company in its FAQ.

Not for secretive people

WhatsApp strongly advises against using the function for secrets or the like. You should only communicate about this with people you trust. The reason for this is that you can forward expiring messages at any time before they disappear or take a screenshot of them - or of course a photo - to save them.

In addition: When replies in WhatsApp, the previously sent message is quoted. When responding to an expiring message, the quoted text may still remain in the chat after seven days. And: If an expiring message is forwarded to a chat in which expiring messages are switched off, the message does not disappear there.

How to activate "Expiring Messages"

To use the function, proceed as follows:

  1. Open the desired chat and click on the name of your chat partner at the top
  2. Click "Messages Expiring," then click "On". The function is now activated.

Only group admins can activate the function in group chats.

Function suspected for a long time

Messenger such as Telegram or Signal have long offered a self-delete function for messages. WhatsApp itself is said to have tested the feature in various beta versions in the past. Read more about this here.

However, it was reported at the time that users could make messages disappear after an hour, a month or a year in addition to a week. Why WhatsApp has now limited the time span to one week is unknown.