Away messages were the very first status updates. And now that Facebook has perfected the latter, it's trying to bring back the former.
In another update to Facebook Messenger – something we're seeing a lot of these days – Facebook is testing a new feature that basically brings back the away message. You know. You used AIM before there was a Facebook.
Facebook's calling it the "sidebar status", however. The "sidebar" refers to the list of online friends you can access by swiping left in the Facebook mobile app – the Messenger chat list. Facebook is testing allowing users to write brief status updates to be shown in Messenger.
Think "watching Game of Thrones" or "at the movies :-)"
— Thank Social (@thanksocial) April 16, 2015
The Verge first reported the test, which is only running in a couple of countries right now (not the US). Here's what they have to say:
Messages can be accompanied with a little picture icon; Facebook has created dozens to choose from. Your messages show up only in the sidebar — you won't see them in the News Feed, or on your profile — and they expire in 12 hours, or whenever you post a new one. And they come with fairly robust privacy settings: by default, your friends can see them, but you can restrict it in much the same way you can limit access to your profile. Facebook does save your old status messages, but they're visible only to you.
A Facebook spokesperson said that this new sidebar status lets people get an "instant pulse" of what their friends are up to. I say bring it back. Away messages were where many of us cut our teeth at social media. Seriously, have you ever been as creative with a status update as you were with an away message? I think not.