WhatsApp has long relied on phone numbers as the only identity for accounts. Users need a phone number to create an account. Anyone in an individual or group chat can see your phone number. This may change as WhatsApp works to introduce usernames.
The latest beta version of the WhatsApp app suggests that the company might introduce this feature in the future, according to a report from WABetaInfo. The report noted that the username section will be visible on the profile page in Settings.
Separately, AapkaDost was able to corroborate WABetaInfo’s report. We looked at the code of the latest Android app and found references to the username field.
It’s not clear what process Meta’s app might introduce for users to choose a username, as there are currently 2 billion people using the messaging app. The company did not comment on the story or share any details about the feature.
WhatsApp’s competing messaging app Telegram has given users the option to hide their contact and show their username instead. Last year, Telegram also launched auctions for premium usernames based on the TON blockchain. It will be interesting to see how WhatsApp approaches claims for premium usernames and how it plans to protect them.
Currently, WhatsApp users in groups and communities can see each other’s phone numbers. When this feature rolls out, the app will most likely let people hide their phone numbers from people who aren’t in their contact book.
Earlier this month, WhatsApp rolled out a new privacy feature that allows users to hide and lock individual conversations. These conversations can only be unlocked with a device’s biometric authentication or password.