Facebook is testing a SnapChat style feature for status updates, as the social network continues to emulate the success of chat apps.
The feature lets users set an expiration time on post so that after that time, the posts disappear.
Users in New Zealand recently reported noticing the feature. For example, Jen Flitter of Auckland posted a screenshot on Sept. 8 showing expiration times ranging from one hour to seven days.
— Jen Flitter (@jenflitter) September 8, 2014
Facebook confirmed to the technology website Mashable that it’s running a small pilot of the feature.
In the Facebook help centre, it now lists the question, “How do I post something and set it to expire?” The answer given, last updated two weeks ago, is: “Setting posts to expire is only available in some regions right now.”
Facebook often tests features in New Zealand before releasing them more widely.
The expiration option was introduced after Facebook users expressed an interest in automatically deleting posts which are only relevant for a limited amount of time.
Posts for which an expiration time is chosen cannot be subsequently shared by other users.
Snapchat, the popular ephemeral messaging app that Facebook reportedly tried to buy for $3bn (£1.8bn), has boomed in the three years since its founding in 2011 – a growth rate that has sent its rivals clamouring for similar success.
Time-limited messaging is increasingly popular among teenagers, the very demographic coveted by many large tech firms.
In June, Facebook unveiled Slingshot, a photo-messaging app in which images received from friends must be unlocked by “slinging” a different photo back to the original sender.
All messages are deleted once sent and users can scribble or type over their photos.
One month later, the Facebook-owned Instagram also revealed an app that allows users to send photos which are deleted after being viewed by the recipient.