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You'll soon be able to ghost a WhatsApp group without making everyone hate you
Well, until they find out that you've left, but at least they won't be immediately notified of your every move
Many years ago, in the bowels of Silicon Valley, some genius realized that people enjoy getting notifications through social media – those little pings of dopamine that make you feel like you matter.
But there was a dark side. Now we get notified of pretty much anything and everything, regardless of relevance. There are new posts in this group. Someone famous has said something. This person has received your message. This person has read your message.
Wait, why haven't they responded? It's been five minutes. Do they not like me? Oh god.
Anyway, one of the most egregious on Meta's (née Facebook) WhatsApp messaging platform is that if you leave a group chat, everyone is informed of it.
The problem here is that most people in a group chat with others are either allegedly friends or family. When one "ghosts" their social circle – abruptly cutting off contact without warning or explanation – the fallout is delicious.
Direct messages fly between members. What have we done? Is it something we said? Are they OK? And so on.
The fact is that they have probably moved on or are fed up of your bullshit, your toddler photos, your moaning, your first-world problems. Whatever it is, you don't need to be told that they've left – and they would probably prefer to go quietly too.
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There are tons of people out there sitting in highly active group chats who barely contribute and end up muting the notifications. But soon they will be able to leave without stirring up drama.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to Facebook yesterday to deliver a terse update on new privacy features coming to WhatsApp:
... exit group chats without notifying everyone, control who can see when you're online, and prevent screenshots on view once messages. We'll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.
It's sort of baffling that it wasn't built like this in the first place, but – like we said – everyone loves a notification. And if they cause drama, all the better, right?
Your correspondent does not have WhatsApp installed so we asked a Gen Z-er whether the touted update was newsworthy. They said: "I have loads of group chats with people in that talk all the time but I'm never active, I mute them but there are so many. So I can finally leave without looking like an asshole or getting a message from someone interrogating me on why I left.
"It's so stupid but people take offense to it."
Now we can look forward to inevitable thinkpieces like "Group ghosting – the new WhatsApp phenomena gaining ground among Gen Z". ®