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How and why we should use vanish mode

It's always better to leave as few traces as possible when you're online, as they are an additional threat to your privacy. Here's why a feature like vanish mode (or disappearing messages) is a useful privacy tool.

Paulius Ilevičius

Paulius Ilevičius

How and why we should use vanish mode

What is vanish mode?

Vanish mode (also known as disappearing messages) is a feature that makes your messages disappear once a recipient reads them or after a certain period of time. It's a great tool for privacy protection and chat hygiene.

Users usually get notifications if the other party screenshots the message, so they always know if someone tries to work around this feature.

How does vanish mode work?

When users turn to vanish mode, the app automatically deletes a message. It can delete it either after a particular time or when a recipient reads it. Vanish mode can delete not only your messages but the recipients' too. For example, such super-private IM apps as Wickr can automatically delete messages on both ends. However, vanish mode usually doesn't delete any messages that were written before its activation.

Why do we use it?

Vanish mode assigns expiration dates to your messages. It is useful for several reasons:

  • Privacy. The disappearing messages function is primarily used for privacy purposes. It helps if you fear that someone might check your chat logs and see your messages. Also, if you don't store your chat histories, your personal conversations will be less likely to get exposed in data breaches or snooped by cybercriminals or other third parties.
  • Chat hygiene. Vanish mode helps you to maintain chat hygiene. Your logs won't get cluttered if the app automatically deletes them. Moreover, it will be easier to navigate them.
  • Saving storage. In some apps, messages occupy your storage space and, when you have too many of them, can cause your app or even OS to perform slower.
  • As a general precaution. Disappearing messages is a great tool if you don't trust a person you communicate with and fear that a person can use your messages against you. In this case, you should use IM apps that can delete chat logs for both parties.

If deleting your messages is of crucial importance, we advise you to make sure that you use a reliable chat with fully functioning vanish mode, ideally with the possibility to delete it for both parties.

How to turn vanish mode on for Facebook Messenger

Turning the vanish mode on for Facebook Messenger is very simple. All you need to do is:

1. Open FB Messenger.

2. Click on a conversation you wish to enable vanish mode for.

Turn on vanish mode for FB messenger

3. Swipe the whole conversation up once inside.

Turn on vanish mode for FB messenger

4. If you want to turn it back, just tap “Turn off vanish mode.”

Turn on vanish mode for FB messenger

However, we should point out that Facebook Messenger is not the best instant messaging app privacy-wise. Check out our list of the most secure messaging apps. You can also check out our guide on how to start secret conversations on Facebook.

How to turn vanish mode on for other chats

Here are instructions for how to enable disappearing messages in other IM apps.

Signal

1. Open the app.

2. Select a conversation.

Enable disappearing messages on Signal

3. Click on a person's name.

Enable disappearing messages on Signal

4. Choose “Disappearing messages.”

Enable disappearing messages on Signal

5. Choose the time of disappearance.

Enable disappearing messages on Signal

Telegram

1. Open a conversation in Telegram.

Enable disappearing messages on Telegram

2. Click on the person's name.

Enable disappearing messages on Telegram

3. Tap “More.”

Enable disappearing messages on Telegram

4. Choose “Start secret chat.”

Enable disappearing messages on Telegram

5. Choose “Start” if prompted.

6. Tap the tiny stopwatch icon on the bottom.

Enable disappearing messages on Telegram

7. Choose the desired deletion time.

Enable disappearing messages on Telegram

You can also enable auto deletion in a regular chat by:

1. Choosing “Enable auto-delete” in the “More” section.

Enable auto deletion on Telegram

2. Choosing the time of disappearance.

Enable auto deletion on Telegram

Instagram

Instagram's procedure is almost identical to Facebook's:

1. Open the app and press the arrow in the top right corner.

2. Go to a conversation and swipe it up to enable the vanish mode.

3. If you want to turn it back, just tap “Turn off vanish mode.”

However, be aware that this Instagram function is still not available in some locales.

WhatsApp

1. Open the app.

2. Select a conversation.

Enable disappearing messages on WhatsApp

3. Click the contact’s name.

4. Tap “Disappearing messages.”

Enable disappearing messages on WhatsApp

5. Choose the time of disappearance.

Enable disappearing messages on WhatsApp

6. Now you can return to your conversation — disappearing messages have been enabled.

You can disable the feature by clicking the “Disappearing messages” option again and tapping “Off.”

Enable disappearing messages on WhatsApp

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Paulius Ilevičius
Paulius Ilevičius Paulius Ilevičius
Paulius Ilevičius is a technology and art enthusiast who is always eager to explore the most up-to-date issues in cybersec and internet freedom. He is always in search for new and unexplored angles to share with his readers.