Is Facebook’s ‘unsend’ dangerous or useful?

This week Facebook announced their latest Messenger update, the ‘Unsend’ feature, which allows users to delete messages sent to other users.

A report by TechCrunch recently has revealed that Mark Zuckerberg’s old messages to them have disappeared in their inboxes. Although the ‘Unsend’ button is not available publicly, it has been used behind closed doors at Facebook for some time. Initially the Messenger function was reserved only to executives for security reasons, and was put into action following the 2014 Sony email hack.

What is ‘Unsend?’

‘Unsend’ gives users the ability to delete messages that have been sent between two users. It is not known at this stage when the ‘Unsend’ function will be open to the public. However, Facebook has said the update has been in the works for some time. The need for ‘Unsend’ has raised questions, as Facebook has already has a range of user controls over direct messaging. In 2016, Messenger introduced ‘Secret Conversations’, which enabled users to set how long a message could be viewed for, even using encryption keys. However, the timing for releasing the ‘Unsend’ function to the public raises questions following the Cambridge Analytica data breach.

How dangerous can it be?

Is this function really needed? Being able to delete old messages could prove dangerous, allowing users to send abusive messages, only to delete them later. Facebook has made it clear for the ‘Unsend’ update that it will comply with all legal requirements. But the main question still remains, is this really necessary? We will just have to wait and see.