After cribbing some of Snapchat’s other distinctive features, it looks like Facebook is officially bringing disappearing messages to its platform. As of today, “vanish mode” is available on Messenger for users across the U.S., and a “handful” of other countries, according to Facebook—and those same features will be coming to Instagram soon.
As the company put it in in a blog post earlier today, the new feature works pretty simply: Swiping up on the screen of an existing chat thread will now put that thread into “vanish mode”—meaning that any messages from the sender will disappear once they’re seen, or once the chat is closed. If the recipient doesn’t enable vanish mode, however, their side of the conversation will stick around. If one party takes a screenshot of a message sent by a user in vanish mode, that user will get a notification about it.
Per Facebook’s post, the company wants to “make sure” that Instagrammers and Messenger-ers understand how the new feature works. When either of them take their first swipe up, they’ll see a screen breaking down some of the above—noting that any of these messages can be reported for up to a full hour after they vanish, if needed.
A few details worth mentioning here: first, the new feature only works for one-on-one chats, not group conversations. And even though the company began merging some of Instagram and Messenger’s features some months back, users can only opt into one of these vanishing chats if the person they’re trying to talk to are either both on Messenger, or both on Instagram.
Vanish mode is part of a larger push within Facebook’s products towards ephemeral messaging. Earlier this month, fellow subsidiary Whatsapp announced users would soon be able to make their messages automatically delete after seven days.
Of course, the best way to ensure messaging privacy on Facebook’s products is to not join them in the first place, and the second-best is to delete your existing profiles sooner rather than later.