Nothing is private in the day of the Internet – and that goes for your personal, even deleted WhatsApp messages as well.
Currently, the app allows users to delete specific messages sent either to a group or an individual in the “Delete for everyone” option, replacing the message with a “This message was deleted” in the chat. However, there are a few caveats even with this tool. For starters, both you and the recipient must be using the latest version of WhatsApp. Even then, recipients may see your message before it’s deleted or if the deletion was not successful – and that’s only if you delete it within an hour after sending.
Here’s the catch: Deleted messages are actually stored on your phone and can be recovered using the app’s recovery feature. While chat histories aren’t stored on WhatsApp’s servers, the platform says messages are backed up and stored in a variety of places that aren’t protected by WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption.
For iPhone users, chat histories are stored in the iCloud via an automatic backup option or can be done so manually at any time by going to WhatsApp > Settings> Chats > Chat Backup > Back Up Now. Recovering your chat history from iCloud is even easier. After verifying that a backup exists, simply delete and reinstall WhatsApp from the App store, verify your phone number, and follow the on-screen prompts to restore your chat history. Perhaps more unnerving, the app has an option for you to email yourself a copy of the entire chat history.
Android users are able to backup chats and media to Google Drive, making it even easier to transfer any data stored to a new device – and it doesn’t even count towards Google Drive's storage quota. Similarly, information can be automatically or manually backed up by opening the app and hitting Menu > Settings > Chats > Chat Backup and tapping Back up to Google Drive and selecting a frequency other than Never. Restoring from Google Drive is just as easy. Again, just uninstall and reinstall WhatsApp, verify your phone number, and hit Restore.
Just a few days ago, Facebook announced plans to merge WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram. Founder Mark Zuckerberg said the three apps will remain standalone and separate but that users will be able to message each other between the three apps without having to switch platforms, requiring every communication to be encrypted from end-to-end. Currently, WhatsApp is the only app of the three that has this as a default option.