Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduces a new messenger platform at the F8 summit in San Francisco, California, on March 25, 2015 / Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

The company has tried to take on Snapchat before — including devoted apps and rumoured offers to buy it

Facebook is testing new disappearing messages that will self-destruct an hour after they are sent, like Snapchat.

The company has previously tried to build an entirely separate Snapchat competitor, called Slingshot. But it looks to be also taking it on within its much more popular Messenger app.

The company is testing a small timer feature that can be turned on from a conversation that will set messages to destroy themselves an hour after they are sent.

If the feature is available, users will see a small egg-timer pop up in the top-right of their messages, next to the information button. Pressing that turns it on, and will mean that anything that gets sent will self-destruct, then it can be turned back off in the same way.

For now, the feature is only turned on for select users in France. But Facebook seemed to indicate that it would roll out more generally if it is successful.

It also seems to be only available on the app, which was split off from the main Facebook software last year. The messages will delete from the desktop if someone is talking on there.

“Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger,” Facebook said. “We look forward to hearing people’s feedback as they give it a try.”

Facebook has previously been reported to have attempted to buy Snapchat. But the app has refused the advances of Facebook, despite a rumoured $3 billion offer.