Facebook is testing Snapchat-style disappearing messages within its Messenger app in France, offering users the ability to set a message to self-destruct an hour after it is sent.
Simply tapping an hourglass icon on the Messenger app turns on the ability, which remains active until it’s turned off. It mirrors features in other messaging apps: Snapchat, for instance, removes messages once read, while Google’s chat platform offers the ability to prevent conversations from being saved in history.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, which first reported the test, Facebook said: “We’re excited to announce the latest in an engaging line of optional product features geared towards making Messenger the best way to communicate with the people that matter most.
“Starting today, we’re conducting a small test in France of a feature that allows people to send messages that disappear an hour after they’re sent. Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger. We look forward to hearing people’s feedback as they give it a try.”
It’s not the first time Facebook has experimented with ephemeral messaging. The company has ruthlessly tried to consume rival – and former acquisition target – Snapchat, launching no fewer than three previous apps aimed at offering an in-house alternative to the service.
In 2012, “Poke” was famously coded in just 12 days, and offered an almost one-for-one copy of the Snapchat experience. But the app was unpopular, and two years later a more full-featured rival was launched in the form of “Slingshot”.
Slingshot still offered the ephemeral messaging of Snapchat, but offered a few twists of its own, most notably the ability to require a photo in return before a message could be viewed. And unlike Poke, it is still available to download on the App Store.
This article was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Friday 13th November 2015 10.04 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010