The battle for the position of the most unique digital storytelling platform just went up a notch with Facebook running tests on self-destructing messages in France, giving competition to Snapchat.
The feature, which can be used by tapping the hourglass icon on Facebook Messenger, is available only on Apple and Android phones for users in France at present, and the service might be available in other countries if the test is successful.
"We're excited to announce the latest in an engaging line of optional product features geared towards making Messenger the best way to communicate with the people that matter most," Buzzfeed quoted a Facebook spokesperson as saying.
"Starting today, we're conducting a small test in France of a feature that allows people to send messages that disappear an hour after they're sent. Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger. We look forward to hearing people's feedback as they give it a try."
According to reports, this is Facebook's second attempt at ephemeral messaging, called so because of the real life quality it provides by making messages inaccessible after a certain time limit. Facebook's first attempt, Poke, launched in 2012, had failed to hold the attention of the users.
The Facebook feature, which allows messages to vanish after an hour of being sent, has already been in use by competitors like Line, WeChat for some time, while Snapchat has had the feature since its inception.
While Line, which has 211 million users, recently introduced 'hidden chats' option that destructs messages after a set time, WeChat, China's most popular messaging app with half a billion users, allows its users to recall messages, text and images, within two minutes of being sent.
Facebook, with its reported 700 million users, can pose trouble for Snapchat, even though critics laud the Live Story feature of Snapchat, apart from its regular self-destructing messaging feature, for allowing users to share videos and images 'live'. The company's staff then curates the visuals and makes them available for users to experience an event or life through the eyes of others.
"There's a little bit of every social media platform in a Live Story, though mostly a bit like Instagram and Vine fused into one, which is probably why the platform is such a hit," explained Fast Company's P.Claire Dodson.
In a bid to narrow down competition, Facebook offered to acquire Snapchat in 2013, but the offer was turned down by the latter.