It’s been a while since WhatsApp introduced a ‘life-saving’ feature for users - the ability to delete a message for everyone. This lets them delete a media file or a text soon after it is sent to the wrong person. It also saves senders from facing awkward situations. However, this feature hasn't been working as intended when you send a media file to an iPhone user and later use the ‘Delete for everyone’ feature. Apple iPhone users can still see them.
As spotted by a user (via The Hacker News) and tested by Gadgets Now as well, if an image or a video is sent to an iPhone from any device and is later deleted using the ‘Delete for everyone’ feature, the media file stays in the ‘Camera Roll’ in the iPhone and can still be accessed. WhatsApp just removes it from the chat window.
What’s worse is that if the receiver is using WhatsApp with default settings on his/her iPhone, the image and video gets downloaded automatically and is saved in the Camera Roll without prompting.
Once the media enters the Camera Roll of the device, Apple doesn’t let WhatsApp make any changes to it (which in this case is to delete it). As a result, the image stays saved even if the sender removes it from the chat window.
This raises a serious question that since Apple doesn’t let WhatsApp make changes to media files in the Camera Roll, why is WhatsApp wrongly showing users that the image is deleted even if it’s not?
WhatsApp gave a statement when the user who found the ‘bug’ got in touch. The company stated that there is ‘no guarantee’ that the media file will be permanently deleted. “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,” stated WhatsApp.
The Facebook-owned instant messenger later confirmed to The Hacker News that once the media file reaches the Camera Roll, it goes out of reach of WhatsApp’s ‘Delete for everyone’ feature.
“This feature is working properly, and using the 'delete for everyone' feature in time will result in media being removed from the WhatsApp chat thread. We provide simple options to help iPhone users manage the media they receive from friends and family, per the best practices established by operating systems. If a user chooses to save images to their camera they are stored out of reach of WhatsApp's 'delete for everyone feature,” WhatsApp said to the website.
However, the feature works as advertised and can wipe the media file completely if the person on the receiving end is using an Android phone.