• Instagram is internally testing a new feature
  • The new feature is similar to Snapchat
  • The new feature will erase conversations when they're done

Instagram is prototyping a new feature that allows users to send messages to other users without having to worry about having their messages coming back to haunt them in the future.

Social media giant and Facebook-owned Instagram is prototyping a new feature called “Disappearing Messages.” This feature allows users to send messages that don't need to be erased because the conversation will be deleted once users leave the chat. The ephemeral text messaging feature is currently in private testing, TechCrunch reported.

Here's how the new feature works:

First, Instagram users will need to swipe up from the Instagram Direct message thread. Users will then be brought to a messaging window that's in dark mode, indicating that the “Disappearing Messages” mode has been turned on. The message thread is empty, and users can simply type and send anything they want.

Next, here's where the magic happens. When the users leave the thread, Instagram will delete every single message in the conversation regardless of length of discussion, topics talked about, and persons involved. Then, when a user goes back to the thread to read all the messages again, he won't find any – simply because they're all gone.

Privacy first?

The feature is largely similar to Snapchat, which erases conversations after all members of the thread have read them and have closed the chat window. This might appeal to users who don't like having their conversations recorded or stored somewhere to be used against them in the future. While it might make conversations feel private, it might also encourage silly or risque chats, TechCrunch noted.

This feature was first discovered by a reverse engineer named Jane Manchun Wong. In a tweet, Wong said the social media company is working on a new feature named using the “speak-no-evil” monkey emoji. Instagram responded to her tweet and confirmed her discovery:

“We're always exploring new features to improve your messaging experience,” the official Instagram Twitter account tweeted. “This feature is still in early development and not testing externally just yet!”

Facebook also confirmed the feature to TechCrunch but didn't give any timeline or potential release date for it. What's clear is that it is being prototyped at the moment, which means it may or may not be released in the future.

Instagram logo The logo for Instagram is pictured. Photo: AFP/DENIS CHARLET