Instagram began work on a feature to enable users to send text messages which disappear after being read by the recipient, a move which would snaffle a core ingredient of its main rival Snapchat.

In a statement, a representative of parent Facebook said Instagram was continuously exploring ways to improve its users’ messaging experience, explaining the feature was “still in early development and not testing externally just yet”.

TechCrunch stated the feature would allow people to send messages in a dark mode, which get erased once the recipient has exited the conversation.

The potential rollout of ephemeral messages on Instagram could be regarded as the single most intimidating move by the platform for rival Snap, as the feature is perceived as the latter’s most successful invention and a core element in Snapchat’s significant popularity, especially among teenage users.

Earlier this month Twitter also took a step closer to Snap’s main offering, outlining plans to begin testing a similar feature in Brazil.