WhatsApp will hide 'Last Seen' status from strangers by default

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

WhatsApp has doubled down on privacy ever since updating its policy on how the Facebook-owned app collects and uses data from chats earlier this year. As a cherry on top, the messaging platform has made changes to its "Last Seen" feature.

Instead of rooting through settings to disable your "Last Seen" status, WhatsApp has updated its settings so users you haven't chatted with before won't know if and when you are active on the app. Now, the feature is set to only "My Contacts" by default. 

"To improve the privacy and security of our users, we're making it harder for people you don't know and haven't chatted with from seeing your last seen and online presence on WhatsApp," the messaging platform stated. "This will not change anything between you and your friends, family, and businesses who you know or have previously messaged."

As spotted by WABetaInfo, the report points out that third-party apps on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store have the ability to log a user's "Last Seen" and active status on WhatsApp — similar to email tracking. Since this status is now changed by default, a random user striking up a conversation won't be able to log this data.

WhatsApp allows users to change their status to "Everyone," "My Contacts," and "Nobody," with that last one disabling the function altogether. Unless you add a contact to your smartphone, however, then no one will see your online status automatically.

The messaging platform has gone through a number of changes recently, including rolling out the ability to send disappearing photos and videos on WhatsApp and now being a native app on Windows 11. For more of the best security apps to stay secure online, we've got you covered. 

Darragh Murphy

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.