Facebook has been spotted testing an unsend feature for Messenger, which would allow users to delete messages after they have been sent.
This feature was spotted by Jade Manchun Wong, who has a well-documented track record of uncovering test features before they go live.
She accomplishes this through reverse-engineering code found in Android apps.
Wong posted screenshots on Twitter showing the feature in use on her Android device.
Facebook Messenger is finally working on "Unsend Message" in the app for everyone!
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) October 12, 2018
In a follow-up tweet, Wong adds there is a window of time in which messages can be deleted. After that time limit has expired messages cannot be unsent.
That sounds similar to Gmail’s unsend feature, which has a time limit of only a few seconds.
However, that’s still useful if you immediately spot an error after sending. Or, perhaps, immediately regret what was sent.
A time limit can also help ensure the feature isn’t abused by those with malicious intent.
For example, people may feel like they are free to say anything they want on Messenger if the evidence could be deleted at any time.
Instagram recently introduced an unsend feature this past summer, so it wouldn’t be unusual for Facebook to do the same.
In some cases, this feature may end up being redundant though. If the receiver has push notifications enabled then there’s nothing to prevent them from seeing the message.
Facebook also sends email notifications for messages by default, although those can be turned off in the settings panel.
Perhaps Facebook will not send notifications until after the unsend time period has expired. We’ll have to wait and see when/if the feature is officially rolled out.