WhatsApp today announced another protection for users in an effort to clamp down on the spread of fake news and misinformation. Through a new feature, users can control who has permission to add them to groups. The company says this will “help to limit abuse” and keep people’s phone numbers private. Related to this, the app also will introduce an invite system for those who enable the additional protections, allowing users to vet any incoming group invites before deciding to join.
Putting users in control of how they’re added to groups could help some, but only if users are inspired to dig into the settings and make the change for themselves.
To enable the new protection, users can go to Settings then tap Account > Privacy > Groups then choose one of the three options regarding who can add you to a group text: “Nobody,” “My Contacts” or “Everybody.” “Nobody” means you’ll have to approve joining every group to which you’re invited, WhatsApp says, and “My Contacts” means only users you already know can add you to groups.
In the event that you change the setting to either “Nobody” or “My Contacts,” people inviting you to groups will be instead prompted to send a private invite through an individual chat. That way, you still have the option of joining a group even if the person inviting you isn’t one of your regular WhatsApp contacts. However, the invite will expire in three days if you don’t accept.
WhatsApp says the new settings roll out to some users today, and will reach the rest of WhatsApp’s audience in the weeks ahead. The most recent version of the app will be required.