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WhatsApp unveils new privacy features, like who can see you online and more

Facebook parent Meta announced changes to the messaging service that also includes leaving groups silently and blocking screenshots for view-once messages.

WhatsApp announced new changes to its messaging app on Tuesday aimed at increasing privacy and giving more control to users.

The new changes at the messaging service, which is owned by Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc., encompass three features: the ability to leave groups silently, choosing who can see you online and blocking screenshots for view-once messages.

The first feature will allow users to leave group chats without alerting the other members in the chat — only the chat admin will be notified, and the feature will begin rolling out this month, WhatsApp said.

The second feature will also roll out this month and will allow users to choose who can and can't see when they're online. The final feature adds an extra layer of protection to view-once messages, allowing users to block screenshots of those messages. This feature, according to WhatsApp, is currently in its testing period and will become available "soon."

Over the past few years, WhatsApp has been increasing its safety features for users, from protecting calls and messages with end-to-end encryption to two-step verification for security.

"At WhatsApp, Privacy is in our DNA, and we will never stop building new ways to protect your personal conversations," the announcement read. "We believe messaging and calling should always be as private and secure as having face-to-face conversations."

Along with the new features, WhatsApp also announced that they will be kicking off a campaign to "educate people about the new features," though no further details were given.

Meta, which also owns Instagram, has recently been adding new changes to other apps as well. The company has come under fire for privacy concerns, including a lawsuit alleging that Facebook illegally shared data with research firm Cambridge Analytica. Traditional social media practices have also been challenged by newer apps like BeReal, which focuses on authenticity by prompting users to share a glimpse of what they're doing at a different two-minute window each day.

On Tuesday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new WhatsApp changes on Instagram and Facebook.

"We'll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations," he wrote.

Instagram recently came under fire after instituting new features that consumers noted were similar to TikTok. After the criticism, Instagram then rolled back its changes while saying that the app did intend to experiment with different features.

Social media expert Mari Smith said the changes reflect a trend of social media apps trying to outperform each other, something that Meta in particular is trying hard to do.

"There is writing on the wall, and if we as experts read between the lines, we can see there is definitely a sense of concern behind the scenes at Meta," Smith told TODAY by phone. "I think eventually these apps will just kind of find its way, and perhaps at some point will plateau, but I know they're doing everything they possibly can to really grow."

Social media app Snapchat also announced new features Tuesday, rolling out new tools targeted at ensuring child safety with the creation of a "Family Center."

On Monday, WhatsApp also announced a new feature that will allow users to have a little over two days to delete a message after sending it. Previously, the limit was one hour.