Instagram finally seems to be rolling out Vanish Mode, the disappearing chat feature that debuted on Facebook last month, to many more of its users. Using Vanish Mode will feel familiar to Snapchat users: any messages sent using the feature fade into the ether once the chat’s been ended.
To enter Vanish Mode, simply swipe up in a Direct Message and release your finger once the indicator at the bottom of the screen has fully loaded. Then send any weird messages or dirty pictures you’ve been saving up and you won’t have to worry about them coming back to haunt you in the future.
Unless the other person screenshots it, that is. Sure, you can screenshot any message or photo sent in Vanish Mode — though doing so will alert the other participants that you’ve done so. Instagram’s snitching here is likely for accountability purposes: there’s a high chance Vanish Mode will be used for sending salacious photos and other secrets, so allowing users to screenshot with reckless abandon could end up being harmful.
Rolling out to who, exactly? — That’s a great question. When Facebook first added Vanish Mode to Messenger a few weeks ago, the company said it would be coming “to the US and other countries soon.” Various Twitter users have posted about the feature being available for them today, and much of the Input team reports that the feature has been made available to them, too.
All Facebook’s said thus far is that users will need to “update to the new Messenger experience” in order to access the feature on Instagram. It’s likely that only users who have linked their Instagram and Messenger accounts will be able to access Vanish Mode for now.
About those screenshots… — Input editors Cheyenne MacDonald and Ray Wong did some testing this morning to figure out the limitations of Vanish Mode’s watchful eye.
Based on their initial tests, it looks like Instagram will notify chat participants when you take any screenshot with Vanish Mode turned on. This happens even if you’re trying to be extra sneaky and screenshot with Airplane Mode on — the notification still ends up being sent once you turn your internet connection back on.
Notably, though, Instagram won’t send a notification when you screenshot a conversation that isn’t sent in Vanish Mode. The app’s protections only go so far.
Instagram is everything now — Vanish Mode is very (very) reminiscent of Snapchat’s own disappearing chat, which has long been a flagship feature of the app. It’s just the latest in Instagram’s quest to be your one-stop-shop for, well, everything.
Need to read a step-by-step guide about a product? You can do that on Instagram now. Or maybe you want to hang out with your closest friends amid the latest lockdown, or go shopping for that weird sweater you saw some influencer rocking, or maybe you just want to make a TikTok without actually being on TikTok.
In this context, Vanish Mode isn’t so much a new feature as it is the next step in Facebook’s quest for complete internet domination. But anyway, you can send nudes much more easily on Instagram now. Just don’t try screenshotting them on the DL. It’s not going to work out for you.