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Instagram working on disappearing text messages

Messages sent in a new dark mode disappear when the chat is closed, a reverse engineering specialist discovers.


This Instagram message will self-destruct?

Angela Lang/CNET

Instagram is reportedly working on a feature that's made Snapchat popular: ephemeral messaging.

The unreleased feature was first spotted by reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong, who found code in Instagram's Android app labeled with a "speak no evil" emoji.

Wong demonstrated in a tweet Thursday that the feature works when Instagram users enter a dark mode messaging window from an Instagram Direct message thread. When that dark mode chat window is closed, the message sent in that mode vanishes.

The Facebook-owned company confirmed Wong's discovery in a statement.

"We're always exploring new features to improve your messaging experience," Instagram said. "This feature is still in early development and not testing externally just yet."

Sharing ephemeral content is a hit on other social media sites. Facebook tried to challenge Snapchat's popularity in this market by launching its own ephemeral messaging app, called Slingshot, in 2014 after Snapchat reportedly rejected Facebook's acquisition offer of $3 billion.

The app let people share short-lived photos and videos with each other, but Facebook pulled the plug on the app a year later.

Twitter also is testing the ephemeral waters, announcing earlier this month that it's testing a feature that'll let users post text, photos and video that vanish in 24 hours. The feature is meant to encourage people to feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts online.