TechCrunch reported that Facebook has been quietly deleting the messages CEO Mark Zuckerberg has sent via Messenger.
Right after this report was posted, the company announced that the ability to retract a message will soon be available to all Messenger users. The “unsend” feature is coming in the next few months, but the company has provided no further details beyond that.
Facebook Messenger currently offers a Secret Conversation mode where users can set a timer on when messages will be destroyed. With this feature, however, all parties within the conversation are notified when the thread will expire.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson apologized for not offering the “unsend” feature to all users sooner:
“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.”
Facebook has implemented this type of feature in its products before. For instance, WhatsApp has offered an unsend feature since last year, which lets users revoke a message within a short period of time after sending the message. In this case, the message does not actually disappear from the thread, the note “this message was deleted” sits in place of the text, video, or photo.
Today’s news could not come at a worse time for Facebook, as several users that have had conversations with Zuckerberg have seen messages and entire threads disappear. While the company’s terms of service do not specify anything against deleting messages, the act has been criticized as a breach of trust.