WhatsApp introduced an option allowing messages to automatically vanish after seven days, a move it claimed would make conversations appear more private and similar to face-to-face communication.

The new function, which will start rolling out globally this month, is driven by the company’s goal to “make conversations on WhatsApp feel as close to in-person as possible, which means they shouldn’t have to stick around forever”, WhatsApp said in a statement announcing the step.

When turned on, the feature will make new messages disappear a week after they’ve been sent in a chat, “helping the conversation feel lighter and more private”.

The same will apply to media content sent in a chat, but these can be saved on a user’s device if their auto-download setting is on.

Messages will also disappear if a user doesn’t open the app for a week.

Each participant will be able to enable the ephemeral messages feature in an one-to-one correspondence, while in group conversations only admins will have the control to do so.

WhatsApp’s move replicates the main functionality of Snapchat, which deletes messages after they are opened or when a 24-hour time limit setting is enabled.

Instagram and Twitter were also reportedly working on ephemeral content functions.