13 April 2018
WhatsApp is said to be rolling out a new feature which will make it possible for users to redownload media files even after they have been deleted. This new feature has been spotted by WABetaInfo and is currently available only on Android. Specifically, it is available on WhatsApp version 2.18.113 or higher.
The feature seems to be aimed at helping users in those situations where they might have deleted a downloaded media file by mistake. And anyone who is a regular WhatsApp user can tell that such incidents happen quite often. To use the functionality, one will simply need to visit that particular media file message in the conversation and tap the download button. This will start the process of redownloading the deleted file.
It is worth mentioning that this feature will work only if you have deleted WhatsApp media from the storage location. If you end up deleting the message itself from the conversation, your only way to get back the file is to ask the sender to resend it. There are no official words on for how old deleted media files this feature will work but the WABetaInfo team was able to redownload files as old as three months.
While this is indeed a handy feature, it makes it clear that WhatsApp will be keeping media files on its servers for a long time even after they have been deleted by the user. Prior to this change, it used to keep undownloaded files on servers for 30 days and delete them as soon as the user had deleted them. This change can surely make people worry about the privacy aspect but it should be noted that media files continue to be encrypted end-to-end which should be a sigh of relief.