Did you know that you can send secret messages in Facebook, complete with a self destruct timer? Some of you might already be aware but in case you aren’t – it’s a thing. Until recently so was reaching in to someone else’s messenger mailbox and retracting a message you’d already sent, well that is, if you are a Facebook executive named Zuckerberg.
TechCrunch reported on Friday that Facebook retracted Facebook messages sent by Mark Zuckerberg and other executives from their recipients’ inboxes. That’s an ability normal Facebook users don’t have. Once caught in the act, Facebook went on to tell TechCrunch reporter Josh Constine, that it plans to make an “unsend” feature available to all users in several months, and has already been considering how to build this product. Until the Unsend feature is released for everyone, Facebook says it won’t unsend or retract any more of Zuckerberg’s messages.
TechCrunch gathered email evidence to support it’s belief that messages previously sent by Zuckerberg had then mysteriously disappeared. Once Facebook realized they could no longer deny the claims, they confirmed it to the online tech publication. Facebook also went one step further—possibly to help lessen any backlash they will receive in light of this latest breach of trust with users—announcing its plan to make this unsend button an upcoming feature for all of its users. Constine believes this just makes it easier to say that Zuckerberg was a beta tester all along, rather than privileged to access the users that helped make him one of the richest men in the world are not.
The public relations campaign continued with the social media megalith releasing a statement of apology:
“We have discussed this feature several times. And people using our secret message feature in the encrypted version of Messenger have the ability to set a timer — and have their messages automatically deleted. We will now be making a broader delete message feature available. This may take some time. And until this feature is ready, we will no longer be deleting any executives’ messages. We should have done this sooner — and we’re sorry that we did not.”
TechCrunch gave an excellent explanation of how the current secret messaging unsend feature works saying
“Facebook already offers a “Secret” encrypted messaging feature that includes an Unsend expiration timer. But this can’t be used in existing traditional Facebook message threads, and instead users have to launch a separate “Secret” conversation. Zuckerberg and other executives weren’t using this feature, and instead had their permanent, non-“Secret” messages retracted. Instagram also offers an Unsend option in its Direct messaging feature, but warns that while it can retract sent messages, the recipient may have already read them.”
If you are curious how to use the secret message functionality already in existence, here’s a quick and dirty set of instructions below.
Facebook has yet to say whether users will know that a message has been retracted from their inbox or not, thought knowing that it happened seems to defeat the purpose. It is entirely possible this could all go horribly wrong in the era of data breaches, enticing less tech savvy individuals into sharing risqué or private information they might not have otherwise, believing that it will be “destructed” soon after reading. But unlike Mission Impossible’s infamous destructing messages, hopefully everyone knows by now that on the internet, nothing is ever really gone for good.
Featured Image Courtesy of the Associated Press