The popularity of the free messaging service WhatsApp is unparalleled. More users means you can text more of your friends for free: this is the beauty of a multi-platform app. But what happens when you start seeing your boss, ex-girlfriend and friends blocking each other? Will they know they've been blocked?
I've been using WhatsApp since the day my sister recommended it as a great alternative to texting. I've discussed its convenience before, the technology behind WhatsApp makes it ideal to dodge the abusive charges some mobile operators charge their customers for stuff that we do every day. My current plan has bundled messages but charges me an extra for every SMS I send abroad. With WhatsApp I have this covered.
Its rising popularity and the app's own behaviour has risen eyebrows wherever it's installed. Once you register with your phone — you can also use the same account with a new handset — the service will scour your contact list to cross check those using WhatsApp too. The app is kind enough to list them as Favorites, but there isn't any of that when were talking about my old boss. The "Hey there! I am using WhatsApp" message that nobody bothers to change isn't going to make it any better.
Blocking those contacts you don't want to see again
Perhaps you have some telephone number saved on your phone just in case. I have my neighbour's for any emergency, but I would never think of texting all day long with the latest gossip — the odd elevator conversations do it for me. Thankfully, there's an option to block contacts without them knowing: you can do this directly on the message window next to the Edit and Add buttons of by navigating through the app Settings.
Once you block a contact, every time they message you they'll see a single tick, an indication that you haven't read the message. Those messages will never show up on your phone. One of the things about WhatsApp users find scary is the read report, the fact that you know if the person has read the message. A contact that has been blocked, will receive no notification and will be able to write you, only suspecting that you haven't launched the app in a while as the messages are still pending.
If you choose to go down this route, you won't receive the messages either, which can be convenient with the spammy type of people or those you don't want to hear about. There is a but and for some this could be a big but. Even when you block a contact and will no longer be able to send you messages, they will see your status. Watch out with those "So hungover I had to call in sick at work" type of things.
Changing the chat settings to hide your online status
If you're going to use WhatsApp with a lot of your contacts to the point that you feel your privacy is gone, I suggest you spend some minutes to go throughout the Settings menu > Chat Settings. Over there you can disable the message timestamps and modify your blocked lists at your convenience. Remember that when you block WhatsApp contacts they won't be able to see your 'Last seen at…' recent activity.
Retrospectively, this will be the best way to know if any of your contacts has blocked you is to check for the combination of these two signs. Whenever a contact doesn't reply to your messages and doesn't event care to read them (double check mark.) Notice that their recent activity wont appear on your phone if you're blocked, which could mean that the person hasn't launched the app for a while.
There's an updated follow up post that ellaborates a bit more on some methods to know if you've been blocked. It's clear WhatsApp considers this something within their privacy rules, but you can still check three simple things to see if someone has blacklisted you.