Facebook launching “unsend” feature in Messenger

Facebook launching “unsend” feature in Messenger

Facebook Messenger users to get 10-minute ‘unsend’ window

Facebook is launching an “unsend” feature in Messenger more than 10 months after it promised to do so after it was discovered surreptitiously removing messages sent by Mark Zuckerberg from their recipients’ inboxes.

The company stopped using the secret feature, which it said it had built “to protect our executives’ communications”, when it was discovered in April 2018, and promised not to delete messages again until it could make “a broader delete message feature available”.

That feature is now available to users. But it is somewhat less powerful than the all-encompassing ability granted to Mark Zuckerberg, to delete any message he had ever sent and erase any evidence that it had even existed.

Instead, Messenger users will be able to delete messages up to 10 minutes after they have sent them – and in group conversations the deleted message will be replaced by text alerting everyone that a message was removed.

Facebook did not confirm whether it would now only delete executives’ messages in line with the restrictions of the new tool, or if it would go back to using the all-powerful feature initially built for Zuckerberg.

Messenger users do have more power to delete messages sent in “secret conversations”, the company’s branding for its end-to-end encrypted chats. There, texts can be set to auto-delete after a certain time, and have been removable by the sender since the feature was launched.

A similar approach is taken in WhatsApp, Facebook’s other messaging service, where all conversations are end-to-end encrypted by default.

In January, it was reported that Facebook is considering merging the technical functions of Messenger and WhatsApp, as well as Instagram Direct Messages, to let people send messages between the three services.

Such a merger would be a logistical challenge, since the three services each have hundreds of millions of users and run on different principles, but it could allow Facebook to increase the use of its messaging services – and make it harder for regulators to force the company to spin off any given subsidiary to promote competition.

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