Facebook has now officially introduced the long-awaited unsend feature, but it is available only in select countries for now, according to TechCrunch. The Facebook unsend feature is available for iOS and Android users in Bolivia, Colombia, Lithuania and Poland.
Deleting messages will leave a trace
The Facebook unsend feature, which is officially dubbed “Remove for Everyone,” will allow Messenger users to delete a recently-sent message. Users will have 10 minutes from the time of sending a message to delete it. However, the feature will still leave a trace that a message has been deleted.
In place of the erased message, a tombstone icon will be visible, indicating that the sender retracted the message. Leaving this trace should help limit abuse of the new feature. Additionally, Facebook will keep a copy of the deleted message for some time to ensure it does not violate its policies.
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“We need to make sure we don’t open up any new venues for bullying,” Facebook Messenger boss Stan Chudnovsky told TechCrunch. “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.”
Facebook plans to release the feature globally as soon as possible, but the specific timeframe is not revealed yet. Facebook is planning to introduce more extended versions of the unsend feature as well, like allowing you to set a time limit for a chat or a conversation before it is automatically erased or an expiration limit for all chats. Such features would help you clear your backlogs, especially if you are concerned someone is snooping on you.
Zuckerberg’s version was better
The Facebook unsend feature has been in development for the past few months. It first gained attention about seven months ago when the social network secretly removed some private messages sent by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Since then we have heard occasional reports about the feature being a work-in-progress. Facebook even teased the feature last week, suggesting an imminent launch.
It must be noted that the unsend feature being rolled out now is different from the one used to delete Zuckerberg’s chats. At the time, Facebook deleted messages that were much older than the 10-minute-s timeframe users now will have. There was also no tombstone icon. One can expect and understand such privileges for the CEO of the company.
At the time, Facebook defended the deletion of Zuckerberg’s old messages by saying it was a needed step to protect the privacy of its executives and its trade secrets. Facebook also told TechCrunch then that deleting messages was part of the preventive measures introduced to protect executives’ communications in the wake of Sony Pictures’ email hack incident in 2014.
How to use the Facebook unsend feature
The Facebook unsend feature will allow you to remove all kinds of messages, including texts, group chats, photos, videos, links and more, but as mentioned before, you will have only 10 minutes to delete them. Additionally, you can only delete messages that you sent and not messages others send you. As far as why specifically 10 minutes and not more or less, Chudnovsky told TechCrunch that they studied the existing delete functionality and found that users take less than a minute to realize they sent something they should not.
“We decided to extend it to 10, but decided we didn’t need to do more,” Chudnovsky said.
To access the feature, long-press on the message you wish to remove and then select “remove.” This will give you options like “Remove for everyone” or “Remove for you.” Choosing the first option will delete the message for the recipient, while the second option works like the old delete option by only deleting the message on your end but not for the recipient.
On selecting “Remove for everyone,” you will get a pop-up telling you that the message will be permanently deleted for all chat members, and they will know you deleted the message. Once you confirm, a tombstone and a line of text stating that “you [or the sender’s name] removed a message” will appear in place of the deleted message.
Additionally, if you want to report a deleted message, click on the name of the sender and scroll to “Something’s wrong.” Next, select the relevant category under which you want to report the issue.