WhatsApp is now blocking billions of users from taking screenshots of profile pictures

whatsapp logo pictured in the background while a smartphone screen with a screenshot block warning is shown in the forefront

WhatsApp is plotting new protections to prevent scammers from taking screenshots of other people's profile pictures in a bid to impersonate them

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 16/03/2024

- 05:30

Updated: 23/04/2024

- 13:28

Meta-owned app has quietly rolled out privacy feature to its 2 billion users

  • WhatsApp users are no longer able to screenshot profile pictures
  • Privacy feature was spotted by beta testers earlier this year
  • But parent company Meta is now rolling it out globally
  • Android users were first to spot the new addition in the chat app
  • It's designed to stop users from stealing other people's profile pictures
  • This technique is used to impersonate people in a variety of scams

WhatsApp is blocking billions of its users from taking screenshots of profile pictures.

Engineers at parent company Meta have seemingly flipped a switch and started to roll out the feature globally, despite no official announcement. The block leverages the same privacy-focused functionality used by banking software and streaming services like Netflix to prevent screenshots.

WhatsApp has introduced the block to stop people from impersonating or harassing other users.

This type of scam has become so widespread that multiple high street banks, including NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland, have shared detailed instructions for customers to help them avoid impersonation scams on WhatsApp.

NatWest warns its customers: "A WhatsApp family and friends impersonation scam occurs when a criminal sends you a message pretending to be your friend or family member. The message will have a generic opening such as 'Hello Mum' or 'Hi Dad'.

"They'll claim that they've got a new phone- often because they’ve lost their phone- or their phone is damaged and that’s why they're messaging from a different number. They'll then claim that they urgently need money to pay for a new phone, to pay a bill, or buy other items."

a screenshot that shows the black screen and warning message that appears when trying to take a screenshot of a profile picture in the new whatsapp update

A warning will pop up in WhatsApp whenever you attempt to take a screenshot of a profile picture, following the roll-out of the planned feature


First spotted by the team at Android Police, the update is now live on Android. GB News tried to replicate the functionality in the office, but was still able to screenshot profile pictures, suggesting the update is still rolling out worldwide. These changes usually take a few weeks to reach everyone.

When viewing a profile picture in fullscreen, taking a screenshot will not capture the photo — but leaves you with a picture of a blank screen.

“Can’t take a screenshot due to app restrictions,” a pop-up will warn at the bottom of the screen.

The latest addition builds on a slew of privacy features introduced by WhatsApp in recent years. The chat app removed the ability to download and save profile pictures back in 2019 in a bid to halt impersonation.

It was a good start, but scammers have relied on screenshots as a workaround since then. With the latest update, Meta clearly hopes to quash impersonation, harassment and bullying on its platform for good.

To block screenshots, WhatsApp is using the same technology employed by several other mobile apps, including banks. The same block is applied when attempting to take screenshots of copyrighted material, like an episode or film playing on Netflix or Disney+.

The latest update comes days after Meta issued a statement about a malfunction within WhatsApp that caused iPhone users to be plagued with duplicate photos.

Now that the long-rumoured screenshot block is live, WhatsApp can focus on its long list of planned changes for profile pictures within the messaging app. Early testing suggests the company, which is owned and operated by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, will add the ability to share different profile pictures and usernames with certain people.

WhatsApp already lets you hide your profile picture from people who aren’t saved in your contacts, but the upcoming change would build on this feature — allowing you to set up a different photo and name that displays for anyone whose number isn’t saved on your phone.


That means you’ll have a different username and profile picture when you’re thrown into a group chat from someone outside of your contacts, like a chat for a Baby Shower, Hen or Stag do.

WhatsApp could also let you change your profile picture for existing contacts, so while your friends might be able to see you in your swimmers soaking up the sun, your work colleagues or extended family will be presented with a picture with more clothing, for example.

The ability to present different profile pictures based on certain criteria for your contacts should help you juggle the huge swathes of people in your WhatsApp — from partners and lifelong friends, to work colleagues and acquaintances, to extended family, and even customer service representatives from popular brands.

The eagle-eyed team at @WABetaInfofirst spotted the screenshot block when it was in the early stages of testing in February 2024. The X account regularly shares tidbits from the latest beta versions on Android and iOS to offer hints at what the team inside Meta has planned for the world’s most popular messaging service, with over 2.5 billion users worldwide.

You may like