WhatsApp privacy settings on Android: Medium level

Learn how to change your privacy settings on WhatsApp using Android. These steps adjust your privacy and security settings to Medium level protection.
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How to protect your account against getting hacked

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Check the list of connected devices

What for: to be sure that strangers won’t read your correspondence.

If you open the web version of WhatsApp on a public computer and forget to log out of it, strangers will be able to read your correspondence and send messages on your behalf. To prevent this, check the list of active devices in the mobile app and terminate the sessions you don’t need. To do so:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the WhatsApp Web section.
  3. If the QR code scanner opens, your list of connected devices is empty.
  4. In the list of connected devices, select the device that you are not currently using and tap Log out.
  5. You may also log out of all devices except the current one. To do so, tap Log out of all devices at the bottom of the list and confirm your selection.

Enable two-step verification

What for: so you definitely don’t get hacked.

Two-step verification helps secure your data when cybercriminals copy your SIM card or attempt to intercept the text message with the confirmation code. When this option is enabled, WhatsApp can request an additional six-digit PIN when an attempt is made to confirm your phone number.

To enable PIN-based two-step verification:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Two-step verification.
  5. Tap Enable.
  6.  Enter the six-digit PIN that WhatsApp will require when an attempt is made to confirm the phone number. Important! Do not use a simple combination that can be guessed easily, such as 123456 or 111111.
  7. Enter the same six-digit PIN again and tap Next.
  8. Enter your email address. If you forget the PIN, a PIN reset link will be sent to this address.
  9. Tap Next.
  10. Enter the same email address again and tap Save.

WhatsApp does not verify the email address that you enter for purposes of resetting the PIN. So be sure to specify an actual email address. If you enter a wrong address, you will lose access to your account for a week after switching to a new device. When the week elapses, you will at last be able to confirm your number. However, all messages received over the course of seven days will be lost.

You can change the PIN or email address or disable this feature at any time. To do so, go to the Two-step verification section and select the relevant menu item.

Downside: WhatsApp will prompt you from time to time to enter your PIN while you use the app.

Enable verification with biometric data

What for: an added level of protection against unauthorized access.

WhatsApp can be set to request a fingerprint for login confirmation. You can enable this feature if other people have access to your phone and you don’t want them to read your correspondence. To do so:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Privacy.
  5. Select Fingerprint lock.
  6. Tap Unlock with fingerprint and place your finger against the scanner to
  7. Select when the verification will be required after the screen gets locked:
  8. Instantly
  9. After 1 minute
  10. After 30 minutes
  11. Disable the Show content feature to stop the sender’s name and message text from showing in the notification window.


How not to expose your personal data

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Delete your account before changing the number

What for: to prevent the new owner of the number from accessing your correspondence.

The WhatsApp account is linked to a phone number. When you change the number, the system creates a new account. The account linked to your old number will remain active for 45 more days from the time of the last launch of the app. Your old number will have a new owner sooner or later. When they log into WhatsApp, they will see your profile photo and account details. If you do not want strangers to access this information, use the number change feature. To do so:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Change number.
  5. Read the instructions and tap Next.
  6. Enter the old and new phone numbers.
  7. Tap Next.
  8. If necessary, enable the Notify my contacts option and select the contacts to be notified about your number change:
  9. All contacts
  10. Contacts I have chats with
  11. Tap Configure… to manually select the users you need. Bear in mind that contacts in groups that you manage will receive a notification anyway.
  12. Tap Done.
  13. If the system prompts you to enter the two-step verification PIN, enter it.
  14. Tap Remove account and confirm your selection.
  15. Link your new number to the account.

The number change feature lets you import your profile info and settings into the new account. You will also retain access to the chat history but only as long as you use the same device. 

Stop showing photos and videos in the phone gallery

What for: to prevent files from chats from mixing with other media files on the phone.

By default, photos and videos received in WhatsApp are stored in the phone memory. They are displayed in the phone gallery together with other media files. Since files from your correspondence can be private, we recommend disabling this feature.

To stop showing photos and videos from WhatsApp in the gallery:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Chats.
  4. Disable the Media visibility option.

To remove saved media files from the device:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Data and storage usage.
  4. Tap Storage usage.
  5. Select the contact whose correspondence data you want to remove.
  6. Select the type of data to remove and tap Free up space.

Note that you will then have to download files from the chat to be able to view them. You will not be able to see them if your contact removes them on their device.

Limit the visibility of your info

What for: to make your info visible only to you or your contacts.

Any person who has your phone number can view your WhatsApp profile info, message read receipts, as well as your online status and the time of your last visit. If you do not want strangers to view this info, you can hide it or restrict viewing.

To limit the visibility of your personal info:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Privacy.
  5. In the Last seen, Profile photo, and About sections, select the check mark next to My contacts or Nobody.
  6. Disable the Read receipts option.

Keep in mind that read receipts cannot be disabled in group chats.

Downside: by disabling the display of read receipts, you will also stop seeing read receipts from other users.


How to defeat spammers and trolls

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Restrict contacts from sending you messages

What for: to keep out spam.

Any WhatsApp user who knows your phone number can send you a message. If you have been targeted by fraudsters or spammers, you can block the unwanted users. You can also block users from whom you do not wish to receive messages for any other reason.

Blocked users will not know that they have been blacklisted. They will not be able to call you or view your status updates, and all messages sent by them will be marked as undelivered. You will not see those messages at all.

To block a user:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Tap Privacy.
  5. Tap Blocked contacts in the bottom of the list.
  6. Tap the icon in the upper right corner of the screen and select the contact whom you want to block.

After blocking a user, you will not see his or her status updates or the time when the user was last online.

To unblock a user, tap the user’s name or phone number in the list and then tap Unblock <user name>.


How to get rid of unwanted notifications

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Disable sound alerts

What for: to get distracted less.

If you correspond often in WhatsApp, sound alerts about every new message can annoy you. You can disable sound alerts for chats with specific users, group chats, or all messages.

To disable sound alerts for a specific chat:

  1. Select a chat on the Chats tab.
  2. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Mute notifications in the drop-down list.
  4. Select the amount of time for which you want to disable notification tones.
  5. If you want to continue receiving notifications without sound, select the Show notifications check mark.

To disable sound alerts for all group chats:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Notifications.
  4. In the Groups section, tap Notification tone.
  5. Select None.

To disable sound alerts for all messages:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Notifications.
  4. In the Messages section, tap Notification tone.
  5. Select None.

You can also mute the sound confirming that your message has been sent and received in chats. To do so:

  1. Open the menu by tapping the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Go to the Settings section.
  3. Select Notifications.
  4. Disable the Conversation tones option.

Privacy level
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Relaxed

Basic privacy settings, maximum convenience.


Medium

A golden mean respecting privacy matters but preserving convenience.


Tight

A choice of security over convenience; instructions contain a lot of details.

Relaxed
Medium
Tight
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