When Facebook started, early users were often prompted by the site to update their “status,” i.e. John Doe is studying, or John Doe is currently reading news on the best Website ever.
As Facebook grew into a social network for sharing more than just random trains of thoughts (ahem, Twitter), many things have changed: the company broke off its messaging service into a standalone app last year and opened its API to third party developers. And now, according to a report by the Verge, it’s potentially bringing back a retro aspect of instant messaging: Away messages.
Reportedly testing in Taiwan and Australia, users can set a “sidebar status” alongside a small photo, or tag a location of where they are.
Once set, you can see the status update when you pull in the right-side Messenger tool from the main Facebook app to check out friends’ chat availabilities.
The statuses will remain for 12 hours before refreshing, and you can adjust privacy settings for who can see them.
In case you never used AIM in the late 1990s, away messages were pre-written text that would automatically appear to users who pinged you while you were “away.” Anyone who’s in need of a nostalgic dose can head to YourAwayMessage for a reminder.
Although technically Facebook statuses never went away, users often use this section to share links and opinions than updates on what they’re currently doing. Facebook’s Foursquare-like check-in feature helps to share the user’s current location, but this information cannot be seen via Messenger.
Given Facebook’s recent efforts to beef up Messenger as a standalone app and taking inspiration from WhatsApp, we’re not surprised to see more features – throwback or otherwise – arrive to the service.