Back in April, Facebook was trying to implement a feature that let users un-send messages. After a lot of trial and error, the feature has been made live in a few countries. This feature was leaked seven months ago because Mark Zuckerberg deleted some of the private messages he had sent.
Last week screenshots of the feature surfaced that showed the feature in action. An updated preview of the feature was also made available last week. Currently, the update was made available in Colombia, Poland, Bolivia, and Lithuania only on both Android and iOS devices.
Facebook promises the feature to be released in other countries soon as well. The time frame for un-sending a message is ten minutes. This gives a lot of time for people to think things over and prevent a potential catastrophe.
Even if users miss the ten-minute mark, they can delete the message, but its trail will remain visible in the recipient’s inbox, similar to how WhatsApp’s delete message works.
It will formally be known as “Remove for Everyone,” the message leaves a footprint, indicating that it was unsent.
Facebook will have the message at their server for a bit longer to check for any wrongdoing or violation of their terms of service. The company is also looking to implement other features such as chat logs that have a set expiration time frame.
Essentially the chat log will be auto-deleted once the set time has expired. These features are quite essential in maintaining people’s privacy but can be used in instances of harassment or bullying.
Facebook’s head of Messenger Stan Chudnovsky told Techcrunch,

“We need to make sure we don’t open up any new venues for bullying. We need to make sure people aren’t sending you bad messages and then removing them because if you report them and the messages aren’t there we can’t do anything.”

In the case of Zuckerberg’s messages being deleted allegedly, the messages didn’t leave any trace of ever being sent. This was viewed as an extreme abuse of power by the public. So this feature might just have been added to hush the angry masses.
It is still a useful feature if used ethically.
Users can’t delete messages that they received; only the sender can delete the messages they sent. These include texts, audio messages, pictures, and even videos. Users can press and hold the sent message and choose “Remove” to retract it.
Users will be then given the messages “Remove for Everyone” and “Remove for You.” Remove for Everyone will delete the message and leave a notification. The notification will read “you removed a message” will appear in place of the original message.
This is known as a tombstone. If you decide to remove the message for everyone, a warning will be shown. The warning message reads as follows: “You’ll permanently remove this message for all chat members. They can see that you removed a message and still report it.”
‘Remove for you’ option will delete the message for the user that sent the message but it will still be shown in the receiver’s inbox.
Now it remains to be seen will this feature will be used for good or abused.

Avatar for Fazeel Ashraf

IT graduate from Pakistan’s National University of Science and Technology with a passion for writing. When not reading or writing, I can be found listening to rock and metal or playing some classic jams on my electric guitar. I’m also a big fan of horror movies.

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