WhatsApp adds new privacy controls for profile photos and ‘Last Seen’ status

It lets you block those items for particular contacts.

Dado Ruvic / Reuters

After previewing the feature in beta last April, WhatsApp is rolling out greater privacy controls for Profile Photo, About, Status and Last Seen settings, the company tweeted. Until now, you could only block those settings for Everyone, My Contacts or Nobody, but the new update introduces a "My Contacts Except" option that offers far more granular control.

The "Last Seen" status is a particular privacy danger, as it indicates when someone last checked the app. That provides a way to find out if a contact may have potentially seen your message even if they have read receipts turned off. The new feature allows you to shut off that feature for certain people, while also blocking Profile Photo, About and Status for individual users.

If you restrict your Last Seen status to certain people, you'll notice that you won't be able to see their Last Seen status, either. The new settings are available via the three-dot menu in the upper right corner, then navigating to Account > Privacy.

WhatsApp has added a number of new features of late, both around privacy and convenience. Last year, the company said it would limit accounts for users who don't accept its new privacy policy, but it later backtracked on that. Earlier this week, the chat app unveiled a new feature that makes it easier to switch from Android to iOS.