Facebook Now Testing an ‘Unsend’ Feature for Messenger

Facebook is testing an unsend feature in Messenger

Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company itself found itself in some hot water (some things never change?) when it was discovered some of the CEO’s messages sent in Messenger had been deleted from recipients’ inboxes.

That was seen as a pretty big issue considering Facebook Messenger doesn’t have an “unsend” feature built into it, readily available for general users. But a day after that all went down back in April and the company announced it would indeed be building a feature into Messenger, and that it would be available for all users. Since then, Facebook has been pretty quiet on the subject.

But it looks like it’s currently testing the feature, which would seem to indicate it is at least preparing for a launch sometime soon. An screenshot of the new, unofficial feature was shared on Twitter, and TechCrunch is reporting on Friday that the test out in the real world is happening after all. For its part, Facebook provided the following statement:

“Facebook internally tests products and features before they ship to the public so we can ensure the quality of the experience.”

Right now if you delete a message you sent from your own inbox/conversation, that message is still available in the inbox of the person, or persons, you sent that message to. There’s no way to unsend that message or delete it after the fact. With this unsend feature, though, you can delete the sent message and it will disappear from both inboxes. As noted in the report, though, this particular prototype of the feature includes a time limit, which indicates that you’ll only have so long to make a decision on un-sending the message or not.

An unsend feature is an oft-requested feature, especially for messaging platforms. However, as noted in the original report, there is a potential issue:

“But Unsend could also open vectors for abuse, as users could harass people over Messenger and then delete the evidence. Facebook will need to ensure that Unsend doesn’t accidentally become a weapon for bullies. That might mean allowing users to turn off the ability for their conversation partners to Unsend messages on a thread by thread basis, and/or a report button specifically for flagging messages that have since been retracted.”

There is no word on when the unsend feature may actually launch to the public, but if this is something you’re looking forward to the public testing may be a strong indication it’s coming sooner rather than later.

Our Take

Being able to unsend a message is a nice feature for any messaging platform, but, as noted there at the end it can also open up the floodgates for harassment. It will be interesting to see how Facebook handles it. You’d think this is one thing the company would want to try and avoid any potential backlash.

[via TechCrunch; @wongmjane]