Your WhatsApp chats have a worrying flaw but a secret code will help fix it

Your most private WhatsApp messages might not be as secret as you may think. That’s due to a strange quirk in the way the popular messaging service locks things away from prying eyes and means conversations can end up being read by friends and family who have access to your devices.

The issue stems from a feature called Chat Lock which hides specific conversations behind biometric security such as Face ID on iPhone and the fingerprint scanner on Android devices.

Once enabled, conversations can only be viewed once you’ve confirmed your identity – if there’s no match the chat stays locked and unviewable. This may sound handy if you’re planning a secret party but don’t get too comfortable that things are staying completely hidden.

If you happen to have another device linked to your account, such as a smartphone or laptop, the Chat Lock function doesn’t work.

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That means any messages hidden on your primary device will be fully available to read on those linked gadgets. That could spell disaster for that surprise gathering. Luckily, it appears WhatsApp is working on a way to fix this glitch.

As spotted by the eagle-eyed team at WAbetainfo, the Meta-owned chat app is testing a feature that will allow you to create a secret code which can then be used to keep chats secure on other devices.

As WABetinfo explains, “Entering a secret code will allow users to easily find locked chats even in the search bar of the app. In addition, configuring a secret code will allow users to lock chats even from companion devices.”

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Codes can be anything including letters, numbers and even emojis and need to be entered to read any messages stored behind the Chat Lock protection.

Right now, this secret code option is only available via beta test but it could arrive soon on Android and iPhone.

Like all test versions of the app, there’s no official news on a rollout but watch this space for more details.

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