Telegram announced users can delete any message they have sent or received in a private chat, emphasising this gives them more control over their conversations.

The company first introduced its Unsend feature two years ago, but it was limited to messages sent by users, not received, and only worked within 48 hours of sending.

Users can now also delete any private chat entirely from both their, and their contact’s device.

The latest update also introduces greater privacy around messages forwarded by users, which Telegram explained in a statement means messages passed on “will no longer lead back to your account”.

On his Telegram channel, founder Pavel Durov (pictured) explained the move thus: “Within the next few decades, the volume of our private data stored by our chat partners will easily quadruple. An old message you already forgot about can be taken out of context and used against you decades later…We have to admit: despite all of our progress in encryption and privacy, we have very little actual control of our data.”

He acknowledged “some people may get concerned about the potential misuse of this feature or about the permanence of their chat histories”, but added the company carefully considered such issues before deciding “having control over your own digital footprint should be paramount”.

Criticism of the update is already rolling in. Engadget explained a malicious user could “delete messages to create a bogus version of a conversation, or wipe out evidence of a crime. There’s no consent here, or even notifications – crooks could cover up their tracks, and abusers could use it to attack people while leaving no trace”.

Meanwhile the messaging app company has also made it possible to restrict who can see a user’s display pictures, improved GIF and stickers search, and added support for accessibility features.