WhatsApp is beefing up security for community users as it introduces a way for people to hide their phone numbers from others.
Normally, the names of participants in a community chat are hidden from one another. Admins are the exception, of course, as they’re privy to the names of everyone. But, as WABetaInfo explains, if you were to react to a message in the community announcement group, your phone number suddenly becomes publicly viewable, losing your anonymity. With the aptly named Phone Number Privacy feature, that is no longer a problem as you’ll be able to hide your contact information from prying eyes.
Images in the initial report reveal there will be a new Phone Number Privacy option in a community’s announcement group info menu. Tapping the entry causes a warning to pop up informing you that, even though you’re about to hide your details, there will still be some who can see your number. Community admins will remain one of the exceptions in addition to “people who have saved you as a contact [and] those who have your number from… other chats.” Also, if you need to contact someone “whose number is hidden,” you can send them a request to have them share their contact details with you.
Do note only community members have access to this tool. If you created the community or are an admin, WhatsApp won’t allow you to hide your phone number.
You can try out Phone Number Privacy yourself by installing the most recent WhatsApp for Android beta from the Google Play Store or the WhatsApp for iOS beta from the Apple App Store – assuming you already have access, as Apple’s TestFlight program for WhatsApp is no longer accepting new entrants. Unless you’re one of the few who got in before the doors closed, iPhone users are out of luck. Android owners, however, will have an easier time as Google’s beta program for the Play Store is still accepting new people.
WABetaInfo states the beta is rolling out in waves so there’s a chance Phone Number Privacy may not be available on your device immediately after installation. Be sure to keep an eye out for the beta once it arrives on your smartphone. It’s unknown when the feature will officially launch. Considering it’s already out in beta, Phone Number Privacy should be coming out very soon.
We should mention WABetaInfo claims the update will “be extended to other groups” on WhatsApp. Which ones exactly, again, is unknown. It would be nice to have the same feature appear in smaller WhatsApp groups for the extra bit of anonymity.
Until we get official word, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best privacy tools for 2023 and learn how you can enhance online security.