How to use vanish mode on Messenger and Instagram

Anton P. | November 24, 2022

Vanish mode is not a regular chat via Facebook Messenger or Instagram. Users can enable it after they swipe up from the bottom of a conversation. A chat in vanish mode is temporary, containing disappearing messages meant to self-destruct on command. 

Its purpose is to help people send messages they want to keep away from their usual chats. So, Instagram and Facebook users share embarrassing photos or plans they want to hide.

How does vanish mode work? 

Vanish mode helps if you worry that the user on the other end will screenshot or record your messages. It is also a security precaution if you feel that someone might snoop on your chats. 

Furthermore, it is a more private way to send messages on Facebook Messenger and Instagram. It joins privacy-focused features like Secret Conversation on Messenger, enabling end-to-end encryption

Here are the main principles of how vanish mode feature works: 

  • Vanish mode lets users exchange temporary messages between two people (not group chats).  
  • After a Messenger or Instagram user turns on the vanish mode, it is only active for them. The other person in the conversation needs to enable vanish mode manually. 
  • Users will receive notifications within the chat if someone takes screenshots
  • Only people who follow each other can enable vanish mode on Instagram messaging.
  • People can enable vanish mode in Messenger after opening any chat thread (even if they are not friends).
  • After users turn off vanish mode by closing the chat, the messages in vanish mode are gone. 
  • Initially, vanish mode was introduced in the US and gradually appeared in other regions. 

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Can you report a conversation in vanish mode? 

People can report conversations in vanish mode if another user shares disappearing messages against community guidelines. It can be a covert way of sending offensive or threatening content. 

Perpetrators could hope that the self-destruct feature will help them avert getting reported or blocked on social media. 

Luckily, there are options for reporting messages in vanish mode even after you no longer see the message. 

  • Reporting vanish mode conversation in Messenger. Users can report vanish conversations for up to one hour after they disappear. In such cases, messages get decrypted and delivered to the Help team. The report won’t include the conversation if you send it after more than one hour.
  • Reporting vanish mode conversation on Instagram. Instagram users have 14 days to report messages after they disappear. The conversation will also get decrypted and sent to the support team for review. 

Instagram retains vanish mode messages for two weeks before fully deleting them. However, Messenger only keeps the conversation for an hour before deleting it. 

The reports are anonymous (unless accusations on Instagram involve intellectual property infringement). The reported users won’t receive any notification about the origin of the complaint. 

Turn on vanish mode on Facebook Messenger

  1. Open a Messenger chat with anyone you wish to exchange disappearing messages with. It needs to be a one-on-one conversation, not a group chat.
  2. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
  3. Hold until the circle icon loads fully, and then release.

  1. Then, you will see a blank chat in vanish mode.

  1. First-time users of vanish mode will also get a pop-up with general information about this chat type.

  1. Now, you can send temporary messages to your contact.

  1. You can also turn off vanish mode, and messages will disappear after you close the chat.

Turn on vanish mode on Instagram

  1. Open an already existing Instagram chat or start a new conversation.
  2. Swipe from the bottom to the top and release once the circle icon gets filled.

  1. Your screen will feature a bunch of shush emojis, indicating the beginning of a vanish mode chat.
  2. Now, you can send messages in a blank conversation.

  1. Both you and the other person can turn off vanish mode. The messages won’t disappear immediately, only after you exit the chat.

More private and secure messaging

Vanish mode is a privacy-oriented addition to instant messaging that can be used for quick, confidential exchanges of information. However, users are unlikely to only use vanish mode despite its enhanced privacy. 

Many messaging services do not offer good protection for regular chats. Luckily, some more private providers support end-to-end encryption by default (like Signal).

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Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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