Facebook Slowly Rolling Out Self-Destructing Messages – New Poke App Will Threaten Snapchat?

Facebook appears to be testing self-destructing messages. The feature is being beta-tested in France and on the social media company’s Messenger app.

Facebook is trying to offer a feature that allows people to send messages that have an auto-destruct timer built in. These self-deleting messages seem to quite similar to Snapchat, a platform dedicated to offering the facility of temporary, time-bound instant messages that automatically get deleted within moments of being seen or read.

According to Buzzfeed, which first reported the new feature found in Facebook’s mobile messenger app, the company has chosen to test self-destructing messages in France. Testing commenced without much fanfare in France on Friday and a limited number of users are being greeted with an additional hourglass icon. If users choose to tap the hourglass icon within the messenger app, they will be able to send any message they desire, with an auto-destruct timer.

Messages sent in this manner will be auto-deleted an hour after they are sent, clarified the social media company.

“Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger. We look forward to hearing people’s feedback as they give it a try.”

Interestingly, users can customize the time-delay, if an hour seems quite a long time. Snachat’s messages get deleted immediately after the recipient has viewed them. It’s not immediately clear how Facebook’s messages behave. However, as with any new feature Facebook infuses, such parameters can be changed or removed as testing proceeds. Facebook has confirmed that the feature may be extended to other regions depending on how people respond and whether adoption is healthy.

Still, given the success of Snapchat, the self-destructing messages could become a permanent option. Moreover, it is interesting to note that Facebook did try to acquire Snapchat two years ago. Snapchat’s co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel had famously rejected Facebook’s $3 billion dollar offer, reported MSN. After the bid failed, Facebook responded by creating apps with similar functionality – Slingshot and Poke – but they never gained much traction.

Facebook Messenger app claims 700 million users. But Venice, California-based Snapchat boasts 6 billion daily video views. Still, with 8 billion daily views as well as more than a billion monthly active users worldwide, Facebook is the undisputed king of social media, reported Investor Place.

Apart from ruling social media, Facebook also commands the instant messaging platform. Though its own Messenger service alone might not be big enough, Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, a simple instant messaging platform with insane adoption rates in developing countries, has allowed the company with a user base that collectively far exceeds any other service in existence today. Facebook had bought Whatsapp in 2014, a year after its failed acquisition bid of Snapchat, in a cash-and-stock deal that valued Whatsapp at $19 billion.

Snapchat is estimated to be worth about $15 billion today. But, the platform has just about 100 million users, a number which is quite low, especially when compared to Facebook. Moreover, Snapchat’s financials aren’t healthy, Gawker had reported in August. Apparently, the company made $3 million, while losing $128 million between January and November of 2014.

Many messaging companies are trying to lure users with the promise of innovative features, with the added assurance of robust privacy, backed by super-strong encryption. Snapchat’s platform was the first that offered people the ability to control the messages they sent, after they had sent them. These were similar to actual conversations without record, unlike emails or texts. Unfortunately, users figured out they can simply take a screenshot of the message, before they disappeared.

With Facebook deploying self-destructing messages, the company has once again attempted to replicate Snapchat’s success. Will it end the Snapchat’s dominance in this niche space?

[Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand / Getty Images, Facebook via Rajasthan Patrika, Jason Alden / Getty Images]