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Facebook Messenger, Instagram will let you send messages that disappear

The new feature is called "vanish mode."

You can set your Facebook Messenger chats to automatically go bye-bye.
Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook and its Instagram platform are taking another tip from Snapchat. On Thursday, Facebook said it's rolling out a new way to send messages in both apps that automatically disappear once a chat session is closed.

Called vanish mode, the feature will be available for some users in Facebook's messaging service, Messenger, and in Instagram direct message for those who updated the app so they could chat with their Facebook friends. Facebook in September introduced a new way for users to chat with their Instagram friends and vice versa without having to switch apps.

Facebook Messenger already has a way for users to set their messages to disappear in a certain amount of time. Vanish mode, though, means your messages will vanish automatically. Ephemeral content became more popular, especially among teens, after the rise of messaging app Snapchat. 


Facebook Messenger users swipe up in a chat thread to activate vanish mode.


But with online harassment and bullying still a big problem on social networks, content that disappears can also pose a challenge for content moderators. Facebook said users can take a screenshot of a message and block or report a conversation. If a user takes a screenshot of a message, the person who they're conversing with will be notified. Conversations reported on Facebook Messenger will include the ephemeral messages up to an hour after they disappear. On Instagram, these types of messages will be included in a user report up to 14 days after the ephemeral messages are seen. 

To turn on vanish mode, users have to swipe up in an existing chat thread. When they swipe up again, users return to their regular chat. Users will be able to send ephemeral memes, GIFs, stickers or reactions in vanish mode as well.

Vanish mode is available on Messenger in the US and a handful of other countries, though Facebook didn't specify which. The feature will also be coming soon to countries in the European Union. Vanish mode on Instagram is launching in a handful of countries on Thursday and will be available in the US and more countries in the coming weeks.