We’ve sung the praises of WhatsApp on this site before. Despite its lack of popularity throughout the United States and Canada, where the messaging scene is dominated by iMessage and Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp’s own messaging client—which also happens to be owned by Facebook—is a powerful tool that manages to replicate the simplicity of SMS and text messaging while simultaneously allowing for more advanced technologies like read receipts, advanced group messaging, and typing notifications to let your friends know when someone is typing to respond. These advancements are all welcomed by WhatsApp users around the world, particularly throughout Europe, South America, and Africa, where the popularity of the messaging client has pushed its user base to over a billion people worldwide. And since WhatsApp has clients for Android, iOS, and the web, it’s far more accessible than other applications like iMessage.
This makes WhatsApp an incredibly useful app to message your friends and family around the world without having to pay for an SMS plan in addition to your data. One of the best additions to WhatsApp is a powerful group messaging tool, which makes it easy to message your friends all at once instead of having to keep separate threads for different people. That said, there comes a time in every WhatsApp user’s life when it’s time to disband a group message. Whether this is because your group of friends have grown apart, or because you were using WhatsApp for a business or class group project, it makes sense to delete and disband groups that have become no longer necessary.
But if you’ve never had to delete a group message before, WhatsApp doesn’t make it immediately clear how it’s done. Unlike in an SMS thread, where deleting a group message simply erases the message from your phone, deleting a group message from WhatsApp also removes the group and its associated messages from the servers of WhatsApp. For this very reason, not everyone in a group message can delete the messages on their end; otherwise, you’d have people constantly deleting content that wasn’t meant to be deleted by other group members. That doesn’t mean that a group can’t be deleted, of course. Let’s take a look at how to delete group chats inside of WhatsApp.
Every group on WhatsApp has a “group admin.” This person is a bit different than the other members of the group chat. For one, they typically started the group chat to begin with, meaning they added members to the chat. Admins inside of WhatsApp can add or kick members from a group at anytime, making it easy for them to manage the discussion and dialogue happening at any given time. This makes it easy to manage a group chat’s general discussion, as well as making it easy to keep things on track without getting overly distracted. Group admins can assign additional admins as they see fit, though it isn’t recommended to make every single member of a group an admin. Otherwise, you may be risking an abuse of power overall from members within the group, especially when chats begin to grow large populations. That said, a group can have an unlimited number of participants become group admins, so if you have four people in a chat and you want them all to have the ability to add or remove people, all four users can become admin members. Admins also have the power to invite new members to the group over a link.
While any participant can exit a group chat, only the admins of a group chat can delete the entire group chat. So, if you’re purely a group member of a chat, you won’t be able to delete the group. Thankfully, exiting a group chat works nearly identically to deleting a group chat, only without actually rendering the conversation unable to continue without you. If you’re interested in exiting a group chat and seeing what that entails, we have a separate article on the differences between exiting and deleting a group chat on WhatsApp.
If you are a group admin inside WhatsApp, you can absolutely delete the group chat, though deleting the chat will not just make the conversation disappear for you, but for everyone involved. Considering that a WhatsApp chat can have up to 256 participants, this could be catastrophic to the conversation happening at any given time, so before you delete a group chat that contains a couple hundred members, do consider what’s at stake for the group and the dialogue at hand. An even better idea would to consult the other group admin members, as well as the participants of the group, in order to discuss deleting the group from WhatsApp altogether.
Deleting Groups in WhatsApp
Once you’ve come to an agreement to delete a group inside of WhatsApp—assuming you are a group admin—you’ll have to begin the long process of kicking group members from the chat altogether. Unlike other applications, a chat inside of WhatsApp can only be deleted once it is entirely empty of members. Depending on the size of the group, this may take some serious time commitment. To remove members from the group, enter the group chat inside of WhatsApp, tap the subject of the group at the top of your display, then tap and hold the participant you wish to remove from the group. This will open a prompt on your display for options for the group participant. Tap on “Remove [name]” from the menu on your display. You’ll have to do this manually for each member, which could take awhile for some groups depending on their size and capacity.
After you remove each individual member from the group, you yourself will have to exit the group. From the Chats tab in your WhatsApp instance, find the group chat you wish to permanently delete, then tap and hold on the group chat name (on iOS, you’ll be swiping on the thread, not long-pressing), select the menu icon (on Android), and select “Exit Group.” Following your selection, if you were the only group member left, you’ll see the option to delete the group chat. Tap on the delete icon to remove the group, permanently deleting the chat from both your device and from WhatsApp as a whole.
Deleting Group Chat Logs from Your Phone without Admin Status
While the only way to delete groups from WhatsApp altogether is to be a group admin and to remove all members from the group, you can delete the actual log from your phone even if you’re just a participant. Basically, while the group chat will continue on its own without you in the group, you’ll be able to leave the group and remove the actual chat thread from your phone, essentially “deleting” it from your device without having to delete the actual chat altogether. Let’s take a look.
Though participants inside a group chat don’t quite have as much power as the group admin(s), they still have the option to leave a chat they don’t want to be in at anytime. Likewise, leaving a group chat will give you the options to delete the full chat log from your WhatsApp account, essentially making it so that you were never a member of the group to begin with. To do this, open up the chat interface inside of WhatsApp and find the group you wish to leave. On Android, press and hold on the thread, and on iOS, swipe your finger along the side of the thread to open up the interface. Tap on “Menu” in the Android version of the app, and “More” on iOS, then select “Exit Group.” Though you’ll leave the group, you’ll still need to delete the chat from your phone. To do this, press and hold or swipe your finger on the thread again, as you did previously. Reselect “Menu” or “More” and then select “Delete Group,” followed by a confirmation “Delete Group.” This won’t actually remove the group chat from existing, but it will remove the char log from your device.
While it might be a bit annoying that the only way to delete group chats from WhatsApp is to be an admin inside of the group, this makes a lot of sense from a practical point of view. Without this limitation, anyone could kick all members from the group and delete the chat without any kind of restriction, causing pandemonium inside of group chats around the world and making for a total lack of order. That said, if you are a group admin, with the power to delete group chats from ever existing on the platform, you’ll want to use that power wisely. For many members, including basic participants, you’re better off simply deleting the chat from your phone after leaving the group chat. This can be done even if you’re an admin, as WhatsApp will automatically select a new group admin for you. With that said, if you’re sure you want to delete the chat permanently, and you have the time to delete the entire log of members in a group, WhatsApp makes it easy to permanently remove the group chat from the service.