WhatsApp users can finally choose not to be randomly added to groups

Every time the matter of how bothersome, cumbersome and other “somes” WhatsApp groups can be, I am reminded of this article Philip Mwaniki penned for Zuqka, a pullout in the Friday Daily Nation almost 4 years ago.

In it, he writes:

If you are on Whatsapp, chances are you are in more than three groups. I believe the average Whatsapp user is in four groups and he/she prays for the day Whatsapp will introduce an option to quit stealthily.

Can they also give me an option not to be invited to groups? That would be great.

Sure, you were added to that wedding planning committee for a supposed friend you last spoke to half a decade ago and you are not only uncomfortable about it but you are also broke-broke (read: very broke) and you have nothing to offer but what can you do?

A quick exit (or lefting as we commonly call it) is not on the cards as that, while the most suitable option on the table, is not really an option as you risk coming across as a snob. So, what do you do? Probably mute the group for a year (it’s what I usually do) or, keep on receiving tens of notifications by the hour as you suffer in silence.

Substitute the wedding planning committee above for a random office birthday party, a funeral planning committee, a medical funds appeal group, a nyama choma buddies group, a support group for everyone who survives a ride in one of those ramshackles they call matatus over at Killeton Sacco, a… I could go on and on, and you’ll still find many people trapped with the same predicament.

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All along, the question has always been, what if WhatsApp could just let users decide beforehand, whether they want to be added to a WhatsApp group or not now that human etiquette has failed to work for this all-important messaging application in this part of the world?

After a long wait, that is exactly what is happening.

Going forward, WhatsApp will let users decide if they want to entertain random additions to groups or not – and I can’t wait.

“Today, we’re introducing a new privacy setting and invite system to help you decide who can add you to groups,” WhatsApp notes in a blog post announcing the rollout of the feature.

“To enable it, go to Settings in your app, then tap Account > Privacy > Groups and select one of three options: “Nobody”, “My Contacts”, or “Everyone”. “Nobody” means you’ll have to approve joining every group to which you’re invited, and “My Contacts” means only users you have in your address book can add you to groups.”

“In those cases, the person inviting you to a group will be prompted to send a private invite through an individual chat, giving you the choice of joining the group. You’ll have three days to accept the invite before it expires.”

Whew!

First highlighted by WABetaInfo, an authoritative source for all things WhatsApp, back in February, the feature has been a long time coming since WhatsApp introduced several other sweeping features targeted at making the groups experience better for the over 1.5 billion people around the world who rely on the app to connect with friends, relatives, colleagues as well as news services, last year.

While the feature is universal and is eventually expected to get to every WhatsApp user, it is currently available to beta users. On Android, users on version 2.19.93 should be able to decide whether they want only their contacts to add them to groups or nobody at all or to just maintain the status quo.

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