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Is it a good user experience for sender as well as the receiver of messages in any messenger app (here WhatsApp) to show that there were or was a message(s) deleted?

Screenshot of deleted messages

If I send a message to anyone and delete it before the receiver read it but due the messenger's (WhatsApp) SOP the receiver now knows that I have sent and deleted any message or messages. This puts me in an awkward situation. Now I have to give any excuse or even lie to the receiver.

Is it not so simple to not show the message "This message was deleted"?

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    I personally absolutely hate this feature as it immediately makes me wonder what had been sent and why was it necessary to delete it? Why wouldn't a simple follow up message of "Oh, ignore that last message" have been sufficient? Was the deleted message so terrible, that even my friend would not have wanted me to see it? What was the content of that message that they were so ashamed of? Was it a flame message? If so, then what had I said, in order to provoke such a flame? And so on... an endless spiral into the depths of paranoia, which will then ruin one's day/week/month/year... Dec 6, 2021 at 4:52
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    That's exactly I mean. It can ruin someone's relationship (of any kind). I mean, if I send something by mistake also it is going to trigger some kind of negativity between the two. If it was simple like, before the other person read it I have deleted it and there is no sign of any deleted message(s) there will be nothing to worry. Left there be some kind of indicator at my end that I have sent and deleted any message(s). Why to notify the other person unnecessarily?
    – Alam Khan
    Dec 6, 2021 at 5:00
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    Just deleting without notification makes people wonder what happend to the message if they had the chance to read it. I personally think that it's not the notification that is bad, but the fact that you can delete a message in the first place. I would rather be able to hide or collapse the message, with the ability for the receiver to show it again.
    – jazZRo
    Dec 6, 2021 at 10:29

4 Answers 4

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IMHO, this feature not only just lends itself towards a terrible UX for the recipient but also encourages senseless and lazy message sending, i.e. discouraging the need to review messages before them being sent.

I personally absolutely hate this feature as it immediately makes me wonder:

  • What had been sent and why was it necessary to delete it?
  • Why wouldn't a simple follow up message of "Oh, ignore that last message" have been sufficient?
  • Was the deleted message so terrible, that even my friend would not have wanted me to see it?
  • What was the content of that message that they were so ashamed of? Was it a flame message?
    • If so, then what had I said, in order to provoke such a flame?
  • And so on...

... leading to an endless spiral into the depths of paranoia, which will then ruin one's day/week/month/year...

So, in short, I think is it one of the worse recent additions to the instant messaging universe.

If the addition of a message delete function was absolutely necessary, then it should be deleted without such fanfare. This way, if I wasn't using my phone at the time of deletion, then I wouldn't have been made aware. If I was actually using my phone at the time, then I would have seen a message being deleted (and so, no worse off than the current situation/implementation).


A much better implementation would be to make it configurable, on the recipient's side:

  • Delete silently
  • Notify deletion (current implementation)
  • Do not allow deletion

The sender would then receive an indication (via an icon next to, or overlayed upon, the other person's avatar) of the recipient's deletion status, so that they are aware of how deleted messages will be handled at the other end.

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    Configurable would be good. Disappearing would be confusing if you notice the notification as the new message arrives, click on it, and it's not there (this is quite common for me as I'm normally logged in to WhatsApp Web). In my chats quite often there's a follow-up that actually makes sense compared to a fat-fingered first attempt, or "Oops, wrong group"
    – Chris H
    Dec 8, 2021 at 14:15
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Deleting the message without a trace is insidious and ripe for abuse. The recipient might see the message in notifications, and then wonder why there's no trace of it in the chat log.

Delete feature can be useful in several cases, for instance when you write a lengthy request describing an issue, which is no longer relevant. You don't want the recipient to read through a bunch of text, and then see "oh, sorry, please disregard". Another use is that messages can form a permanent record of sorts, and you might want a way to correct mistakes beyond "that key bit of info I gave you 10 messages ago, that was wrong, here's the correct one". Without the delete feature, they might search for that info months later, and find the wrong one.

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I think Zoom did a great job on showing this message. In Zoom Chat, the deletion notification will only expose to the user who deleted the message (1:1 chat). The receiver will not see anything if a sent message is deleted. It somehow avoid the awkwardness...

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  • This same way is done in Microsoft Teams too.
    – Alam Khan
    Dec 6, 2021 at 8:18
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Every function has its own necessity of existence. I use WhatsApp and WeChat, they have "delete/recall message" both. When people are communicating at a high frequency, some wrong messages may be sent, so the function appears.

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