There was a lot of confusion after Facebook revealed last week that users would soon be able to unsend comments made in Messenger. With this feature starting to roll out, the details of how it will work have come to light.
Turns out it’s not a magic wand that will let you take back what you just said to your now ex-girlfriend.
The release notes for Messenger’s 191.0 update on iOS promised “If you accidentally send the wrong photo, incorrect information or message the wrong thread, you can easily correct it by removing the message within 10 minutes of sending it.”
How Messenger unsend works
Email apps that include an unsend feature hold outgoing messages for a set length of time, giving the writer time to consider whether they really meant what they wrote. It would be impractical for a chatting app like Messenger to hold every message for 10 minutes, so that’s not Facebook’s approach.
Instead, all comments get delivered as quickly as possible and a sender has the option to retract what they wrote. But if the recipient has already read it, they’ve read it.
Facebook’s earlier comments on the upcoming feature seem to indicate it being used more for “Oops that’s the wrong phone number” and less for “Uh, I can’t believe I called you that.”
A small tombstone will appear in place of the deleted message so there’s proof that it was previously there. (In some cases, perhaps these will mark the end of relationships too.)
Also, the message hasn’t been removed from Facebook’s servers. Someone can still report a deleted comment for abuse.
The feature, dubbed “Remove For Everyone,” is available in just a handful of countries now. The goal is to launch it everywhere around the globe as soon as possible.