WhatsApp testing feature to let admins delete messages for all: Could it help fight misinformation?

WhatsApp groups are great. They bring multiple users together in one channel where everything from messages to media can be shared. However, some messages can be a problem in group chats. Often, clear and simple misinformation is spread through WhatsApp in larger family groups and even groups with friends, neighbors, etc.

But the upcoming feature of WhatsApp will be a handy solution for administrators to delete unwanted messages in a group. The feature was spotted in WhatsApp beta v2.22.17.12 by WABetaInfo. It is currently being rolled out to a small number of testers and could be coming to stable versions soon. Messages deleted by the administrator are also indicated with a balloon indicating that the messages were deleted by an administrator.

This feature allows admins to delete messages for everyone in the group. Currently, admins can only delete posts for themselves, just like any other member in the group. Admins and group members can only delete a message for everyone if they sent it themselves. However, this keeps any problematic posts highly visible in the group for everyone to see.

In cases where someone may have sent inappropriate media in a group, a response message asking to stay away from it may not be the most effective, as people will often see it after the inappropriate message, in order. WhatsApp’s new feature will be helpful in such cases, allowing administrators to delete problematic messages/media before other members of the group see/distribute it further.

remove WhatsApp admin Here’s what the feature will look like in action. (Image source: WABetaInfo)

The simple feature could also help curb the spread of misinformation in India, where WhatsApp prospects are rampant and spreading fake news on everything from politics to COVID-19. Messages containing misleading information, whether through text or images and videos, can now be stopped by administrators from spreading further. Of course, this doesn’t help groups where even the admins aren’t fact-checkers or those who promote disinformation themselves. But the addition of the feature is a great start for the popular communications platform.

It can also ensure that admins ensure that groups adhere to the conversations they’ve started for. For example, administrators of a parenting group can ensure that the conversation stays strictly around the topic, rather than drifting into other domains such as politics, etc. which can lead to a lot of unnecessary discussions.

Anyway, this looks like an interesting feature. Hopefully WhatsApp will roll it out to all users soon.

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