Facebook claims that it will allow users to unsend messages with no time limits on when they were sent. However, the timing of the announcement only comes after the company was caught deleting messages sent by CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Techcrunch first reported the message deletion scandal, where several sources claimed that they had messages from Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives mysteriously disappear from their inbox. The social media giant later confirmed that it had removed the messages, but claimed that it did so for corporate security reasons.
No notifications were sent to those who had messages deleted, nor was there any disclosure that such a thing was even possible. Two details that have raised additional ethics concerns about the company.
Announcing a coming message deletion feature in the wake of the scandal may be somewhat suspicious. Especially since Facebook also said that it would stop Zuckerberg from deleting anymore messages before it can roll out the ability to everyone.
Retroactively deleting messages is something of a moral quandry at the moment. Most messaging services (like Telegram and Snapchat) offer time limited messages that remove themselves. However, this also means that the recipient is aware of the nature of the messages and can react accordingly.
Allowing people to go further back in time and delete messages that were expected to be archived could lead misleading conversations in the future. Especially if the other party is not aware that messages were deleted.
Facebook has not announced a precise date for the feature to be released, but says that it should be coming within the next few months. Of course, this doesn’t actually solve the problem of having a CEO abusing his power within the company. All it does is make it seem like he was testing a new feature.