Facebook was the most hip thing when it debuted in 2003, because there was no fulfilling online social experience around, but fast-track to 2016 — the Internet is filled with social media giants like crazy. And there has been one such crazy app — Snapchat — whose self-destruct messaging feature has caused Facebook’s user engagement to plummet.
So, it seems that Facebook is now (again!) taking a page out of the Snapchat experience and experimenting with an ephemeral messaging feature on the iOS app. This feature called ‘Quick Updates‘ allows a group of friends to privately share photos and updates that will disappear within 24 hours. You can then update your friends with latest updates, while the older ones disappear.
The new feature, that is currently being tested, was first spotted by Tiffany Zhong, an analyst at VC firm Binary Capital. She tweeted out pictures depicting the new feature, and other test users confirmed similar feature sightings.
TFW Facebook is still trying to emulate Snapchat 👻
(new feature so hot tip for all you reporters) pic.twitter.com/0AVJQNdRsM
— Tiffany Zhong (@tzhongg) July 21, 2016
These 24-hour ephemeral messages are not visible on the News Feed, but have been neatly(or secretly!?) tucked away behind a smiley(really, smiley!?) button next to the search bar on the iOS Facebook app.
When you tap on the smiley in the top right corner, you’ll be taken to a tutorial introducing you to the new self-destruct feature. You then move on to a dark-themed screen, which will act as the home-screen for your quick updates. You can now post updates, photos, memes or videos and anyone that you select to make it visible to, will be able to see and have access to it for the next 24 hours.
Facebook has lacked behind in updating its one-on-one personal sharing and messaging experience as compared to other social platforms that are popular among GenZ. It is however making a push for including as many features as it can into its core app(in-short, cluttering it), even though it might not make sense to others.
A Facebook spokesperson, however, has told TechCrunch that – this was just a product it was testing with just a group of random test users. The purpose was giving users a tool to share updates personally with whom they want, instead of the wider News Feed audience.
Facebook has confirmed the experimentation of the ‘Quick Updates’ feature in an email update to us. A Facebook spokesperson also added that,
We often conduct small tests of new feature concepts, and this particular experience was an old test feature that was shown to some people. We don’t have any plans to launch it more broadly.
So, it would be just to say that even-though ephemerality makes sharing easier and less-judgemental but it isn’t Facebook’s cup of tea. It had previously also tried to experiment with a similar 1-hour self-destruct messaging feature in Messenger, and now its introducing secret conversations into the same. It should expedite and experiment with including a similar feature to their billion user Messenger platform.
Facebook has also launched other standalone apps, like Groups and Moments to fill in the void it had left out. It has even acquired trendy social media and messaging giants like Instagram and WhatsApp to make itself feel relevant in the current times.