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Facebook testing self-destructing Messenger feature

Fri 13 Nov 2015

French Facebook users have spotted a new addition to their Messenger app – a self-destructing message option in the style of digital story-telling platform Snapchat.

The feature has been discovered in France by iOS and Android users, who accessed it via a new hourglass icon in the top right of the screen.

“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,” said a Facebook spokesperson. The representative explained that the social media giant is conducting a test in France to allow users to send messages which disappear after an hour of being 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,” the company added in a press statement.

This is Facebook’s second attempt at introducing the messaging feature following the addition of Poke in December 2012 which deleted photos and videos, but this failed to gain traction among users.

Similar ephemeral message settings run on apps such as Line and WeChat. Line’s ‘hidden chats’ option destructs messages after a set time, while the WeChat feature, launched in 2014, allows its users to reverse messages, texts and images, up to two minutes after they’re sent.

With 700 million users, Facebook’s new disappearing messenger could create direct competition for Snapchat, which has gained over 200 million monthly users since its launch in 2011. The app has enriched its offering beyond self-destructing photos to include the Live Stories feature – curating users’ messages into a public stream of a live event or experience.

Facebook looked into buying Snapchat in 2013, proposing $3bn cash acquisition, but the offer was turned down by Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel who was not interested in a “short-term gain.”

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