- Facebook is testing a new feature that encrypts messages end-to-end and enables conversations to disappear, according to a post by David Marcus, the social media network's VP of Messenger Products.
- The disappearing feature will allow users to set a timer that controls how long messages remain visible to users.
- "We're looking forward to getting feedback before we make this feature more broadly available this summer," Marcus wrote.
On its face, the new Facebook feature sounds a lot like Snapchat’s initial promise of disappearing images and messages. Interestingly, Snapchat is now going in the opposite direction, rolling out a new feature last week called "Memories" that allows users to save their messages. Perhaps Facebook's technology is closer to Mark Cuban’s Cyber Dust app, a messaging app that eliminates messages after they are read. The idea is to provide users with more control over the privacy and security of their digital communications.
In a data-driven world, privacy and security have become more valuable. One example is the advent of the CSO (Chief of Security Officer), the CPO (Chief of Privacy Officer), and even the hybrid CPSO designation to the C-suite. The move to add encryption should help Facebook, already a major leader in messaging apps, appeal to a more nuanced audience.
"Providing more ways for people to safely share is an important part of making the world more open and connected," David Marcus, Facebook's head of Messenger, wrote in a Facebook post. "Whether you're asking a doctor for medical advice, sending sensitive account information to your spouse, or even your Social Security Number, it's important to have options available for sharing these kinds of very sensitive messages."
Facebook's end-to-end encryption feature could help unlock its version of mobile commerce. This type of technology would make mobile commerce over messaging apps more attractive to people otherwise unwilling to share more than basic information. Given that people are increasingly becoming used to making payments with smartphones by sharing credit card information over near-field-communication at point-of-sale devices, creating a secure way to make those payments over messaging services is another step forward in a mobile-first world.