It turns out WhatsApp’s ‘Delete for Everyone’ feature — designed to let you wipe texts and files you sent by accident — could still leave traces of your messages, due to a discrepancy in the way the function works on Android handsets and iPhones.
Researcher Shitesh Sachan noticed that even after purging messages, media files sent to iPhone users in group chats (who have enabled the ‘Save to Camera Roll’ setting) will remain on the device.
To clarify, although deleted messages containing media files won’t be visible in WhatsApp, the files will still be available to iPhone users with ‘Save to Camera Roll’ enabled.
By contrast, the feature works differently on WhatsApp for Android. Once a user has used ‘Delete for Everyone,’ media files saved to Android recipient’s photo gallery also get wiped.
The difference between the platforms could give a false sense of privacy to Android users unfamiliar with the way the feature works on iOS devices.
When the researcher contacted WhatsApp about the flaw, a company spokesperson suggested the feature offers no guarantee that media files will be properly purged from devices’ storage.
“The functionality provided via ‘Delete for Everyone’ is intended to delete the message and there is no guarantee that the media (or message) will be permanently deleted —the implementation focuses around the message presence in WhatsApp,” a spokesperson told the researcher, The Hacker News reports.
For the record, WhatsApp is not the only messenger that has suffered from this issue.
A researcher recently discovered Telegram kept images from deleted files in recipients’ phone storage, but the company has since released an update that fixes the bug. From the looks of it, though, WhatsApp has no immediate plans to address the issue.