Facebook’s latest take on a signature Snapchat feature is arriving today, and it’s called Vanish Mode. First announced as part of its big September redesign of Messenger, Vanish Mode is an ephemeral messaging mode for both Facebook Messenger and Instagram that will you let you send texts, photos, voice messages, emoji, and stickers that disappear immediately once they’re viewed by other parties and the chat window is closed.
Some users may have already noticed Vanish Mode in the chat settings on Messenger, as Facebook has been rolling out it slowly to some users since the redesign was announced two months ago. And on Instagram, some elements of Vanish Mode are already part of the core direct messaging feature set, including disappearing photos and videos once a piece of media has been viewed. Vanish Mode is similar in ways to Messenger’s existing secret conversation mode that lets you enter an end-to-end encrypted chat that’s saved only on your device, although the new mode is designed to delete anything sent forever once it’s been viewed.
For Facebook, ephemeral messaging still represents a way to attract younger smartphone users who have flocked to chat apps and platforms where they don’t have to post publicly and risk being haunted by social media posts later on in life. While Snapchat popularized ephemeral messaging among US teens with Stories and its DM design, Facebook has since adopted many of its rival’s features and implemented them throughout Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp for users of all age groups around the world.
Vanish Mode is just the latest of Facebook’s takes on the trend and a notable addition considering CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last year his company would strategically shift away from the News Feed and public posts and more toward private messaging and groups.
Vanish Mode will appear in both apps as a distinct option you can turn on and off in the settings of any particular chat message. You can also enter the mode by swiping up on a chat window (Vanish Mode is only available for one-on-one chats at the moment, and not group threads). The mode will then enable disappearing messages and other chat interactions, with the option to turn it off located at the top of the chat window or by swiping down again.
Facebook says the mode will be opt-in only, meaning you have to agree to enter Vanish Mode once another user in the chat has enabled it. Messenger and Instagram will also notify you when a screenshot of a chat is taken while the mode is enabled. Facebook says you can report individuals over Vanish Mode chat conduct, although it’s unclear how much of the conversation Facebook will be able to review for violations.
Vanish Mode should be available for Messenger in the US as well as some other countries starting today, Facebook says. And it will go live on Instagram in the US and other countries at a later date.
Update November 12th, 4:57: Clarified that Vanish Mode only works for one-on-one chats, not group messages.