Digital Forensics Dispatch

Digital Forensics Blog
by Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

WhatsApp Releases Message Editing Feature

May 23, 2023

Kris Holt from Engadget recently reported that WhatsApp, the popular end-to-end encrypted messaging platform, has released a message editing feature. Holt writes “[starting] today, you’ll be able to edit messages that you have already sent.”

This isn’t the first messaging platform with the ability to edit messages, and likely will not be the last. When iOS 16 was announced, it included the ability to edit the content of sent messages through the use of iMessage.

Like with Apple’s message editing, a user will have to move fairly quickly to edit the message, as they will have 15 minutes to edit the message content. To access the option, a user will need to long press on the message and select the Edit option in the list of options.

From a mobile device forensics standpoint, the ability to edit or modify message contents can sound alarming. In fact, forensics is often used to validate data from the device, if a message has been edited, can we tell?

In short, there are ways to determine that a message has been edited. Holt reports that “[any] message that you change after sending it will include the word ‘edited’ next to the time stamp.” This seems to be playing out similarly to iMessage editing with Apple devices.

It will be interesting to see how WhatsApp handles the message edits and what forensic artifacts the edits will leave behind when the feature is used more. As for Apple iMessages, the amount of data a digital forensic analysis can find from edited messages is sufficient to determine when and what content was changed.

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