First introduced on Whatsapp, Facebook has provided Instagram and Messenger users a fleeting new way to communicate with one another through its apps.
Those who have wished that Facebook offered a bit more privacy will likely be happy about the new vanish mode available in some of its apps. First introduced in Whatsapp, the feature has now been rolled out to Messenger in the U.S. and a few other countries and will soon be introduced to Instagram. It lets users send a spontaneous message that will disappear as soon as it’s read by the recipient. But how does one use vanish mode?
Disappearing messages on social media apps aren’t new. Snapchat originally built its entire ecosystem around users sending messages to each other that would disappear a few seconds after they were received. This allowed people to send private and sometimes intimate messages to one another. Facebook, though, is advertising the feature as a way of sending quick messages to elicit a funny response from a friend or family member.
Facebook makes using vanish mode is quite simple. In Messenger, the user just swipes up on the chat thread and the user enters vanish mode. Then, they can send silly photos, stickers, animated gifs, emoji reactions, and so on without them being archived in the chat history. To exit vanish mode, the user simply swipes up again and he or she can return to chatting normally. Simple, right?
How Facebook Is Keeping Users Safe
Facebook says only people who are connected to each other can use the vanish mode feature, citing safety reasons. While it doesn’t go into detail, one would imagine the company is trying to prevent users from being bullied or being sent unsolicited images by strangers. On top of that, it is an opt-in feature, meaning both parties have to agree to allow vanish mode before either can use it in the chat. And, if a user is made to feel uncomfortable, he or she can block the other person and report the conversation to Facebook.
Another interesting layer of protection is that the user will be notified if the recipient took a screenshot of the chat while vanish mode is engaged. This may not always be a big deal. Some users may end up using the feature just so they don’t have to look at their own silly messages after the fact. But if vanish mode is used much like Snapchat was in its early days, it becomes significant because the user will then know if the other person has a permanent record of a message or photo they may not want them to. Granted, the user’s privacy isn’t actually protected here as it doesn’t delete said screenshot. However, it would theoretically expose the recipient and give the sender an opportunity to raise it with them.
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