What is vanish mode? Using it on Messenger and Instagram

Anton P. | June 9, 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 would not like to keep in their usual chats.

So, Instagram and Facebook users can share embarrassing photos or plans they wish to keep secret. The best part is that you will receive a notification if someone takes a screenshot of your disappearing messages.

vanish mode

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, which lets you enable 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.
  • The feature does not seem to work in 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. Only then can they see the messages the first sender shared.
  • Users will receive notifications within the chat if someone takes screenshots.
  • Only people who follow each other can enable vanish mode on Instagram.
  • People can enable vanish mode in Messenger after opening any chat thread. It might be with people you have not befriended.
  • After users turn off vanish mode, they can still see the disappearing messages. Once the user closes the chat, the messages in vanish mode are gone.
  • Initially, vanish mode was introduced in the US and gradually appeared to other users. It might still be unavailable in certain regions.

Can you report a conversation in vanish mode?

People can report conversations in vanish mode if another user shares something against community guidelines. After all, it is possible to abuse vanish mode and its disappearing messages.

It can be a covert way of sending defamatory, 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. However, there are limitations on both Messenger and Instagram:

  • Reporting vanish mode conversation in Messenger. Users can report vanish conversations for up to one hour after they disappear. In such cases, the report will include the messages. They 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.

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

In both cases, 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 one of the more privacy-oriented additions to instant messaging. It can be a solution for a quick exchange of confidential information.

However, it is important to remember that many providers of messaging services do not offer the best protection for regular chats. For instance, some providers support end-to-end encryption for conversations by default (like Signal).

So, you can consider switching to more private instant messaging apps. Meta has plans to add such features in 2023.

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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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