Don't blink! Facebook tries out disappearing posts

Facebook takes a page from Snapchat and could capture some younger users

Facebook might be taking a page from Snapchat.

Facebook told Computerworld on Thursday that it is testing whether to offer disappearing posts and comments with a small group of mobile users.

"We're running a small pilot of a feature on Facebook for iOS that lets people schedule deletion of their posts in advance," a Facebook spokesperson said in an email.

The feature could be useful for users who want to post comments or questions such as -- "I'm selling tickets for this weekend's Patriots' game" or "Anyone want to meet for dinner tonight?" – that don't have a long shelf life.

The feature also could draw in younger users who are fans of Snapchat, a messaging app that enables users to send texts, photos or video that can only be viewed for a short amount of time. Facebook, which has seen slowing growth, has been focused on drawing in younger users, who have been siphoned off to other social sites, such as Twitter and Snapchat.

"Facebook running tests on disappearing posts is yet another way they are attempting to copy other services and keep users on their site," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "Facebook, more than at any time, needs to bring back kids to the platform. This could be one way to accomplish just that."

Earlier this summer, Facebook made another effort to slow the Snapchat drain by launching a mobile app called Slingshot, that lets users instantly share photos, videos or selfies with a group of friends. Similar to Snapchat, Slingshot images can be swiped to make them disappear soon after being viewed.

There's a catch with it, though. To see the image, those friends need to send their own photo back.

Slingshot is a free-standing app. It doesn't direct users to Facebook or post shared images or video on the social network.

Slingshot was released in June in the U.S. for iOS and Android smartphones.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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