Hong Kong users get new WhatsApp functions, including deciding who sees statuses

Voice messages of up to 30 seconds can be recorded and shared as status updates.

WhatsApp users will have greater control over who can view their status updates under latest changes launched by the instant-messaging app, while an industry representative in Hong Kong has assured local smartphone owners there should be no security issues.

The app, owned by American firm Meta and used by about 2 billion people globally, started rolling out the new features on Tuesday.

A WhatsApp spokeswoman said the changes would not affect the app’s end-to-end encrypted messages, which ensures only the sender and recipient of a message can read or listen to them.

WhatsApp has introduced new features for status updates.

Francis Fong Po-kiu, honorary president of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, said he believed Whatsapp’s new efforts were an attempt to expand further into the social media sector.

He said popular instant-messaging apps had similar security levels. “There are no worrying issues for ordinary users,” he added.

Francis Fong, honorary president of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation.

The new features centre on status, a function which lets users send updates, such as photos, videos, GIFs and text, which last 24 hours, to their contacts.

A highlight is users’ ability to decide who can view their status. Their choice will be saved for their next update.

Users will also be able to record and share voice messages of up to 30 seconds as their status.

Reaction icons have been added to status updates, which allow contacts to respond by swiping up and tapping on one of eight emojis. This is in addition to existing replies via such options as text, voice messages and stickers.

WhatsApp is competing with other apps such as Signal, Telegram and Line.