Having failed to acquire Snapchat a couple of years ago, it’s no surprise to see that Facebook is testing out an ephemeral messaging feature of its own on Facebook Messenger. In fact, it’s actually surprising that it’s taken the company so long to implement such a feature. The feature, which is currently limited to a small group of testers in France, is a bit different from Snapchat in that messages last for one hour, and can be viewed any number of times before it expires.
Facebook is testing vanishing messages in its Messenger app, in a direct challenge to ephemeral messaging rival Snapchat. “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,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote in an email statement. “Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger.” According to Facebook, it is currently testing disappearing messages for iOS and Android users only in France, but it may be available for more countries over time. The new feature, which appears as a little hourglass icon in Messenger, can be turned on or off by tapping on the hourglass in the top right corner of your screen. A disappearing message will vanish from your conversation one hour after the message is sent. When you turn on disappearing messages, it only affects the conversation that you are in. Anyone in the relevant conversation can switch this feature on or off at any time from within the thread.