It was just last week that Facebook introduced ephemeral messages in WhatsApp that disappear in seven days. Now the company is introducing “Vanish Mode” for Messenger and Instagram, which will auto-delete text messages and media as soon as they are viewed and you leave the chat.
If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because it’s yet another feature Facebook is borrowing from Snapchat, which has offered similar functionality for years.
To activate the feature, you need only swipe up within a chat thread. You’ll then see a little loading circle and your interface will turn dark to show it has activated the feature. To exit Vanish Mode, you just need to swipe up again.
The idea appears to be to allow users to enter and exit Vanish Mode at will when they want to share something confidential without the worry of those messages remaining on record forever.
You’ll also be notified if someone takes a screenshot while you’re in vanish mode. Of course, this is no help if someone takes a photo with a camera instead.
If you want a bit more privacy in Messenger without having your messages automatically deleted, you could always try the secret conversation feature which adds end-to-end encryption to your chats. Here messages can be set to auto-delete, but it’s not the default behavior.
The feature is “slowly rolling out” to Messenger and Instagram — the former first — starting in the US.