Pocket-lint is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

(Pocket-lint) - WhatsApp has spread like wild fire, becoming the defacto cross-platform messaging service for many users. It's also the choice of many for group conversations. But it's always had a huge hole in it when it comes to privacy, especially around groups. 

The problem has been that there's nothing to stop people adding you to groups - meaning that you could easily be added to a group by someone you do know and have your details accessed by someone you don't know. Or worse, you can be added to a group by someone you don't know, but has your number - exposing your number to more people you don't know.

An update is rolling out that will give WhatsApp users more control of the groups they are added to and how they are added to them.

There's a new privacy option that will let you select who can add you to groups from Everyone, My contacts and Nobody. That will mean that you're in control of who adds you to groups - although it's not on by default - it's something you will have to turn on in the settings.

Best VPN 2021: The 10 best VPN deals in the US and UK

WhatsAppWhatsApp privacy image 2

If you're blocking invitations to groups, there will be an invite system so that you get an alert asking if you want to be added to the group. That invite will expire after 3 days.

Ultimately, the move should mean that you're able to avoid getting added to groups that you don't want to be a part of. That might be a group created to push spam around a conference, it could be some old friends talking rubbish or it could be a massive groups around school classes or year groups. Or it could be a creepy "fun group" full of stalkers and riddled with abuse.

It's a small change, but it still feels like there's a lot that WhatsApp could do to make its privacy settings clearer. We'd like to see the option to view what others can see about you, how strangers can interact with you, as well as more overt settings to clamp down on can contact you and how.

The new groups control will be rolling out to WhatsApp users over the coming weeks.

Writing by Chris Hall.