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Facebook’s latest trick for Messenger and Instagram just started rolling out

Updated Nov 13th, 2020 7:45AM EST
Image: oatawa/Adobe

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  • Facebook just launched a new feature for Messenger and Instagram that allows people to chat with their friends via self-destructing messages.
  • Vanish Mode is rolling out on Messenger in the US and other countries initially, with Instagram to follow.
  • The feature copies Snapchat’s disappearing messages features and might help Facebook merge Messenger and Instagram down the road.

Facebook is looking to kill two birds with a single stone. That’s a new chat mode for Messenger and Instagram that doesn’t just copy another popular feature from Snapchat but also advances Facebook’s own plans for the future of instant messaging. That’s the Vanish Mode that’s rolling out to select Messenger users and will soon launch on Instagram as well. As the name suggests, Vanish Mode will allow users to send self-destructing messages to their friends and family, a feature that’s somewhat available on WhatsApp.

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Facebook surprised everyone in early 2019 when it announced that privacy is important. Facebook plans to unify Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp into a single messaging system. And because WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, the entire thing will have to provide the same security. To that end, Facebook already rolled out Messenger-Instagram cross-chat support a few weeks ago, and you can enable the feature if you want to chat with Instagram friends directly from Messenger, or vice-versa. WhatsApp integration will follow down the road.

Messenger and Instagram
Messenger and Instagram now support “Vanish Mode” disappearing messages. Image source: Facebook

At the same time, Facebook isn’t done shamelessly copying Snapchat, which already supports disappearing messages.

Vanish Mode lets you send messages that will disappear automatically after they’re seen. This should not be confused with end-to-end encrypted secret messages in Messenger. The new feature can be enabled by swiping up while inside an existing chat thread. After enabling Vanish Mode, the messages you send will self-destruct. To return to regular chat, you’ll have to swipe back up again.

The feature works with regular texts, images, GIFs, and reactions to other messages. The feature is opt-in, which means only users will have to choose whether to enter in vanish mode. Considering that Vanish Mode will be available on Instagram as well, the feature should help convince even more people to bridge their Messenger and Instagram experiences. As I said before, this helps Facebook moves more people to the unified chat it’s building, which is also an opt-in feature for the time being.

Messenger Vanish Mode
The new Vanish Mode’s security and safety information panel. Image source: Facebook

Vanish Mode might be even better than the self-destructing messaging feature of WhatsApp. Facebook says in its announcement that screenshot-taking will trigger a notification to the other person, something that’s not available on WhatsApp. Users can still block and report chats if they feel unsafe.

Vanish Mode will start rolling out in the US and other select markets. Eventually, all Messenger users will get it, and Instagram will support it as well.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.