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WhatsApp adds new security layer for desktop users

WhatsApp Web and desktop now requires fingerprint or face unlock verification to link accounts.

WhatsApp Web 
WhatsApp Web  (WhatsApp)

WhatsApp is adding a new layer of security for its desktop and web apps. WhatsApp users will now have to verify before linking their accounts to web or desktop. The new WhatsApp feature will start rolling out to users globally in the coming weeks.

WhatsApp users on Android can use either their face or fingerprint unlock to authenticate WhatsApp Web or desktop. iPhone users will have to verify their accounts using Face ID. This security verification will pop up whenever users link their WhatsApp account to a new laptop or PC. Also, this process will appear before scanning the QR code from the phone.

WhatsApp is also updating the UI for WhatsApp Web on its mobile apps. The new UI now shows “link a device” which replaces the ‘+’ icon. There isn’t much change though as users can still view the devices their WhatsApp account is connected to, and unlink from here itself. The new WhatsApp Web UI started appearing for beta users earlier this month.

WhatsApp in a release announced the new feature, and also reassured users that the biometric authentication is safe. “The face and fingerprint authentication takes place on your device in a privacy preserving manner - by design, WhatsApp cannot access the biometric information stored by your device's operating system,” WhatsApp said.

The messaging app has been facing scrutiny for its updated privacy policy on sharing user data with Facebook. WhatsApp has postponed the activation of the new policy from February to July but users have been flocking to alternatives such as Signal and Telegram.

WhatsApp is also working on adding multi-device support in addition to web and desktop. This feature has been spotted with the new link device layout. There’s no official word on when multi-device support yet.

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