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This message will ‘delete’ in 7 minutes

Finally WhatsApp is rolling out the ‘Delete’ option for its users.

Up until now, users could delete a message but it would only get deleted from their chat without the recipient being notified. However, now, for upto seven minutes after sending a message, users can choose to delete the message – either for themselves only or all chat recipients – and it will be replaced by “This message was deleted.”

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The age of ephemerality

If there’s one trend that has been extremely popular in the last year, it’s ‘ephemerality’: Snapchat with its 24-hour snaps, Instagram Stories (which soon extended across Facebook-owned platforms including WhatsApp), and now the option to redact messages.

Speaking to AMEInfo’s sister title, Communicate, Ema Linaker, director of digital at Edelman said, “Snapchat decided to take the ephemerality of posts to the next level by setting an expiry date to them, reminding us that if we want to enjoy what our friends post, we need to visit the platform daily.”

And that is, perhaps, the biggest takeaway: the frequency at which we check each platform and app.

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The psychology of NOW

WhatsApp lets users delete a message until only seven minutes after that have sent it. This also means recipients are now more inclined to check the app quicker than before so that they don’t miss out.

It’s akin to having a limited time offer or an early bird sale. When you know the time limit is short, you’re more likely to act quicker.

In fact, using urgency to elicit a reaction is an old trick. Historically, game shows and lucky draws have often picked the quickest to answer right as the winner.

While WhatsApp’s new feature is much needed and appreciated by consumers, it might just be another way to increase the frequency of app usage by the company.

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