Perhaps mimicking the success of disappearing-photo app Snapchat, Facebook revealed this week that it is experimenting with disappearing posts. The feature, which will let users set an expiration timer on their posts, is currently only available for a small number of people using Facebook’s iOS app.
According to The Next Web, which first broke the story, users will be able to set a time limit for their posts from anywhere between one hour and seven days, at which point the post will disappear from Facebook. However, as The Next Web points out, the content may remain in Facebook’s servers for up to 90 days.
Facebook has never been shy about chasing social media trends before. It introduced hashtags to compete with Twitter’s popularity, and it has repeatedly tried to capture Snapchat’s appeal by introducing disappearing content with apps like Slingshot or the Instagram-driven Bolt. It’s clear that, particularly among younger users, having impermanent content is a priority. But Facebook, with its vast servers of user data, would seem like the wrong candidate to create a feature that actually got rid of user content, though if that’s what its users demand, they may not have a choice but to comply. And it’s a big win for user privacy no matter how you look at it. Just don’t let it give you a false sense of security. Anything posted online can always come back to haunt you.