Facebook Adds New Messaging Feature
By Kevin Doyon
BANGOR, Maine — Facebook revealed a new feature earlier this month, which will allow messages to be deleted up to ten minutes after they are sent.
Messages can now be “unsent” ten minutes after the message was sent to someone else. The new feature will allow message senders the opportunity to correct a mistake or remove something that was sent on accident or to the wrong person. However, by doing so, will result in Facebook leaving a “tombstone;” which will let the recipient know that a message was deleted.
“The pros are that users want to be in control . . . and if you make a mistake you can correct it. There are a lot of legitimate use cases out there that we wanted to enable,” Facebook’s head of Messenger Stan Chudnovsky said in an interview with techcrunch. He adds, “we need to make sure we don’t open up any new venues for bullying. We need to make sure people aren’t sending you bad messages and then removing them because if you report them and the messages aren’t there we can’t do anything.”
With that in mind, Facebook will retain the deleted messages for a short time, so that cyber bullies will not be able to use the feature to cover their tracks. That way, if an incident is reported, Facebook can review the messages for policy violations.
The new feature has already been experimented with in other countries, but has yet to make its way to the United States.
“It’s one of those things that feels very simple on the surface. And it would be very easy if the servers were built one way or another from the very beginning,” said Chudnovsky. “But it’s one of those things philosophically and technologically that once you get to the scale of 1.3 billion people using it, changing from one model to another is way more complicated.”
One of those 1.3 million Facebook users is Husson student Aaron Boumil, who views the new feature as both a good and bad thing. “I think it’s going to be helpful in the sense that if you send something you didn’t mean to, then you can delete it. But if it’s really that big of a deal, then maybe you should have been more careful in the first place.”
Judith Rosenbaum, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of Maine, echoed these thoughts.
“Would you shout this off a rooftop? If the answer is “no,” then you probably shouldn’t put it on Facebook,” Rosenbaum said in an interview with WABI. She adds, “everybody just needs to be aware of that, sure you can now retract a message, but it is still out there somewhere. It doesn’t mean it went away forever.”
Steps on how to use this new feature can be found here.