A View from Rachel Metz
Facebook's Poke App Lets You Send Vanishing Messages
Messages sent through Poke self-destruct after up to 10 seconds. Surely this won’t cause any trouble.
Facebook, which introduced the innuendo-inspiring feature way back in 2004, is now giving its “poke” function its own app.
Available today as an iPhone app through Apple’s iTunes Store, Poke allows you to poke a Facebook friend or just share a message, video, or photo with them. You can determine how long you want them to be able to see that message before it expires (between 1 and 10 seconds; I recommend 1 second if you’re hoping to thwart them from taking a screen shot to preserve it forever). You can also view pokes from your friends through the app.
The app is very similar to recently popular app Snapchat. Both Poke and Snapchat will also alert you if the person you send your image to takes a screenshot, although they can’t warn that someone snapped a photo of their phone’s screen with another device.
Understanding that this kind of app may be ripe for naughty behavior (c’mon, obviously), Facebook’s announcement for Poke notes, “if you ever see something you’re uncomfortable with, you can click the gear menu and report it.” It’s unclear whether reporting a message intended to expire preserves it for someone inside Facebook to review.
Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.Subscribe today