File image: WhatsApp icon. AP (IOL).

CAPE TOWN - A new feature is being rolled out in Whatsapp that lets you force everyone in a group chat to stop sending messages.

The 'Restrict Group' tool means that only admins of a group will be allowed to send texts.  Everyone else will only have the ability to read them.

Group member will have the option to use a 'Message Admin' button to gain approval from the administrator before their content can be seen.

The tool will be added to iOS and Android versions of the app in the latest update.

Admin will also be able to restrict who can change a group's information, including its name, using a new Admin Settings option, according to WABetaInfo.

'All participants can normally edit the group description, icon and subject, but finally the administrator can restrict this feature today, preventing no-administrators to modify the group description,' the website said. 

'This action can be managed in the Admin Settings, a new option located in Group Info that's visible to the administrator only.' 

The group info function will only be available in the beta version of the app for Android currently. 

The 'Restricted Groups' feature first emerged in December 2017, spotted by WABetaInfo in beta versions of WhatsApp for iOS and Android.

The site noted that a notification will appear in the chat, stating: '[Admin name] allowed only admins to send messages to this group.'

Participants will still be able to read the admin's messages.

A blog by WABetaInfo explained: 'When administrators disable the chat features, only they can interact each other in the group: this may happen when an administrator wants to get the attention of all participants, writing something important or to organise an event.'

Thankfully, the silencing isn't believed to be permanent, and admins can only apply the restricted setting every 72 hours.