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Facebook tests self-deleting messages in France

In a move to mimic rival Snapchat, Facebook's trial run offers a Messenger app setting to automatically delete messages an hour after they're sent.

Ready to see your messages go up in a puff of smoke?

Facebook is trying out a feature that lets people send self-deleting messages.

If users tap an hourglass icon within the company's mobile Messenger app, the message they send will implode an hour after it is sent, Buzzfeed first reported. Testing kicked off Friday in France.

"Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger," Facebook said in a statement to CNET. "We look forward to hearing people's feedback as they give it a try."

The move takes aim at Snapchat, the messaging app that Facebook famously failed to buy last year. After its reportedly $3 billion bid for the upstart was rejected, Facebook created its own rivals, Slingshot and Poke, which never took off.

The competition between the two giants is heating up, as Venice, California-based Snapchat now boasts 6 billion daily video views to Facebook's 8 billion. With more than 1 billion active monthly users worldwide, Facebook is the behemoth of social networking, but remaining relevant is a never-ending challenge.

Menlo Park, California-based Facebook also dominates the messaging world for now. In addition to its own Messenger service, Facebook owns WhatsApp, which it bought back in 2014.

A number of the emerging messaging apps are trying to differentiate themselves through features focused on privacy or strong encryption. A self-destruct feature is designed to make people feel like their messages are transient, like they would be in a real conversation rather than in emails or texts. Self-deleting messages may also feel more private, though it's become common knowledge that screenshots can be taken of messages before they disappear.