Good morning, Facebook citizens. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to have your Facebook postings self-destruct in 5 seconds.
OK, maybe not that fast, but somewhere between an hour and a week.
Yes, Faceboook’s going Mission: Impossible, ephemeral-message on us, having confirmed that it’s testing an auto-delete feature that will let users schedule their posts’ demise.
Facebook acknowledged to The Next Web that it’s running a pilot for the new feature, limited to Apple’s mobile iOS operating system for now:
We’re running a small pilot of a feature on Facebook for iOS that lets people schedule deletion of their posts in advance.
Some of those who’ve seen the option crop up on their gizmos have shared screen captures on Twitter.
Twitter users have reported seeing the screen:
Ben Young @bwagy
Facebook has a new post expiration option?
If Facebook decides to roll out the new feature throughout Facebookland, we might have the choice of setting messages to vanish like so many Snapchats.
Isn’t that great?! You can plaster all sorts of embarrassing, career-threatening glop onto your page (that’s a terrible idea. Don’t do that.), schedule it to self-destruct in a puff of smoke (Facebook hasn’t promised smoke, at least not yet), and then watch your sins disappear!
What’s that, you say? Snapchats that were supposed to “disappear forever” turned out to have stayed right on our phones?
Now there’s a good point, which gets us to the question of how long a supposedly slaughtered posting lives its undead life on Facebook’s servers.
The answer is that Facebook handles expired posts exactly the same as if you were to manually hit delete on a post: it’s immediately removed from the site.
But then, it has to be deleted from offline backups and logs – a process that can take up to 90 days in some cases.
Therefore, if the auto-delete feature makes its way past the test phase, and if you’re planning to use it to auto-destruct messages that brag about your having done things like rob a bank or that taunt police to come find you after you break into a car, maybe don’t expect to get away without leaving a way for the law to come find you.