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Instagram experiments with disappearing text messages

Mariella Moon
Associate Editor
Anatoliy Sizov via Getty Images

In the future, you may be able to send ephemeral messages through Instagram the way you can on Snapchat. The Facebook-owned platform is working on a disappearing text messaging feature, which clears the chat box whenever you leave it. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered the capability hidden in the Android app's code, while TechCrunch was able to confirm with a Facebook spokesperson that the company is developing the feature.

Instagram has been experimenting with disappearing messages for a quite a while now. Back in 2018, for instance, it rolled out a feature that lets you control how a recipient can view a photo or a video from the Instagram Direct camera. You can decide whether to allow them to view it only once, to give them the capability to replay it for a period of time or to leave a permanent thumbnail of it in your chat box.

If this particular feature ships in the form Wong unearthed, then you'll find yourself in a dark mode messaging window when you start an Instagram Direct conversation. The window clears up after participants exit it, and there's no way to reread what you wrote in the past -- a thread always appears empty when you reopen the chat box.

Here's a demo of its current version:

In response to that tweet, Instagram said: "We're always exploring new features to improve your messaging experience. This feature is still in early development and not testing externally just yet!"