There are times in my life where I wish I had an “unsend” button. Maybe I said something stupid to a friend, or I was insensitive to my partner. Or maybe I said something to a colleague at work that I wish I could walk back. What might be worse is that sometimes these things are expressed via email or some other electronic means. Yes, there is a “recall” button on email, but it makes a big deal over the fact that you’ve sent the email in the first place. And it only works if the receiver hasn’t read the email. All of that said, Facebook is now letting people “unsend” their messages. Great idea? It might be. But that depends on who you are.
Facebook’s feature, known as “Remove” has been rolled out in Poland, Bolivia, Columbia, and Lithuania on Messenger for both iOS and Android. It’s interesting that Facebook is choosing to roll this out in these particular markets, don’t you think? In addition, the feature is kind of unique. It will let you delete a message that you’ve sent – within a 10-minute time frame, but it will also leave a marker in the message thread so that the recipient will know exactly where the message had been. To use it, you can just tap and hold on a sent message, then hit “Remove.” This gives you the option to “Remove for Everyone,” completely retracting the message and leaving a marker, or “Remove for you,” which lets in the recipients continue to see the message (like the current delete option).
Just be aware that Facebook will hang onto the messages for a short period of time so that they can review them for policy violations. Especially if they believe that you’ve engaged in harassment. But let’s look at it from that angle for a moment though. Let’s say that I do send a message that is bullying in nature. Or rather, I send several of them. This Remove feature is actually enabling people to bully because of the fact that they will now be removed. Stan Chudnovsk, the top guy at Facebook Messenger, had this to say about the feature:
“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.”
Facebook is only holding onto them for a short period of time. And as we know, Facebook is short staffed when it comes to policing in the first place, so how will they be able to police these deleted messages?
This new feature comes at a time when Facebook is under fire. But that’s not news. Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg were the subjects of an unflattering New York Times report about how Facebook handled scandals over the last few years. Is this yet another attempt to make amends with the public and their users? Maybe, maybe not. As I mentioned, this rollout is limited at the moment, but Facebook is attempting to make it available to everyone as soon as possible.