Hide online status in WhatsApp
The online status shows whether someone has WhatsApp open. This way you immediately know whether someone has the opportunity to read and reply to your messages, or whether someone is (consciously?) ignoring you. It can lead to fights and misunderstandings: While you are helping a close friend who is in trouble, another friend is complaining about why you are not responding to the party invitation. After all, you're just online? Many people would like to avoid this kind of awkward conversation by hiding their online status, but they can't. Now that WhatsApp is working on it, it's a big step forward for your privacy.
The option to hide your online status will come in a future update of WhatsApp beta for iOS, Android and desktop and will eventually make it into the official version. WhatsApp previously announced other improvements, such as the ability to edit your messages. Whether or not to show your online status can be found in the privacy settings of WhatsApp in due course. It's not in beta yet, but it's coming.
This is what the new function will look like on your screen.
The new feature comes in handy in various situations, such as when you're being stalked by an ex you still need to keep in touch with (because of children) or when you want to use WhatsApp without being disturbed by others. As people use WhatsApp for more and more things, the contact list in the app keeps growing – and that's not just your immediate friends. Also distant relatives with whom you have contact after years can be included, just like the hairdresser, personal trainer, plumber or others with whom you sometimes have contact but whom you do not count among your close circle of friends. That group does not need to know whether you are online. You can choose who can see your online status: everyone or the same as the 'last seen' status.
WhatApp took a step in the right direction last year by hiding the 'last seen' status from contacts you've never chatted with. This prevents third-party apps from tracking when you're online.
The WhatsApp Online Status should not be confused with WhatsApp Status, which gives you a sort of ‘story’ you can make of your current activities.