Facebook Is Testing Secret Conversations Feature for Self-Destroying Messages

End-to-end encryption will give users more privacy

In a move taken straight from Mission: Impossible—or straight from Snapchat—Facebook has begun testing a way for Messenger users to send encrypted conversations that disappear after a certain period of time.

In a post on Facebook this morning, David Marcus, Facebook's head of Messenger, said the company has begun testing end-to-end encryption as a way to provide additional security and privacy to messages. He said certain Messenger features don't yet work with end-to-end encryption, such as cross-device conversations, archived messages and GIFs.

"Providing more ways for people to safely share is an important part of making the world more open and connected," Marcus said. "Whether you're asking a doctor for medical advice, sending sensitive account information to your spouse, or even your Social Security Number, it's important to have options available for sharing these kinds of very sensitive messages."

Users can access the feature from within a normal Messenger conversation by tapping the name of the person they're talking with and scrolling down to the "Secret Conversations" feature. A new window will open, and a person can choose the amount of time they want the message to be viewable once opened with options ranging from five seconds to more than six hours. After that, the user can send their message.

Marcus said the feature will be "more broadly available" later this summer, but didn't say when or whether it will be available to all users.

This isn't the first time Facebook has tested disappearing messages. Last fall, Facebook said it was testing the disappearing messages with users in France while hinting it could eventually be offered in other countries. Meanwhile, Snapchat seems to be pivoting away from disappearing messages by introducing a new "Memories" feature that lets users save messages for longer than the standard 10 seconds.