Facebook is prototyping a feature to mimic Instagram’s Close Friends feature, which allows users to share some content with a select group of friends rather than everyone they’re connected with on the platform—a feature that might prove helpful for anyone hoping to keep snoopers out of their feeds.
Now, Facebook has developed a prototype for Messenger called Favourites that would allow users to share, with a select group of people, stories that eventually disappear after a short period of time. The code was spotted by app researcher Jane Manchun Wong in the Android app and reported by TechCrunch last week.
Don’t expect it anytime soon, though. A spokesperson for the Messenger team told Gizmodo there are no immediate plans for a rollout. The spokesperson said in a statement that Favourites “isn’t a feature we are testing and we have no plans to launch it at this time.”
Facebook/Messenger is testing "Favorites" list for Stories— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) November 21, 2019
It's like Instagram’s Close Friends pic.twitter.com/dsIinrX1Zd
As demonstrated by mockups generated by Wong and confirmed by the Messenger spokesperson, the feature would essentially work by allowing users to choose between sharing Stories via Messenger with their Favourites rather than all of their friends on Messenger.
Close Friends launched on Instagram Stories last November as a way to boost sharing for “more personal moments with a smaller group that you choose,” the company said at the time. Like Instagram’s feature, Favourites would allow users to push their Stories on Messenger to a small group of people individually (not in a group chat, though you can still use Messenger for group chats outside of Stories).
If this all sounds a little confusing, it’s because Facebook and its so-called “family of apps” use a lot of the same terminology to describe tools across its various platforms and the company is notorious for copycatting popular features from its competitors. The biggest difference is that Facebook’s main app has been completely mired in scandals over user privacy.
Putting aside the fact that its other apps have also been the focus of privacy scandals, they’re all still operated by the same data-hungry and recklessly negligent execs who first brought us Facebook. Most companies would want to de-emphasise a toxic brand. The fact that it’s rebranding all its apps with the Facebook label featured more prominently and creating identical features across multiple platforms is a little baffling, to say the least.