BRB, Facebook Just Brought Back The Away Message

Photo: Courtesy of Facebook.
Before there was Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, or even text messages, there was AOL Instant Messenger. You didn't have a car yet. You didn't have a cellphone. In its heyday, AIM — glorious AIM — was your window to the world... Or at least to hours-long chats with friends that lasted until your parents yelled at you to quit hogging the family computer and do your homework. At which point, you'd carefully deliberate: What to put up as your away message? 

Armed with an impressive knowledge of song lyrics that just got you, you'd come upon the answer: *~*Ur mY wOnDeR wAlL...brb doing homework*~*

Perfection.

Well, it would seem that '90s nostalgia was just too hard for Facebook to resist. For Facebook mobile app users in Taiwan and Australia, the social network is bringing back the away message, The Verge reports. The feature is actually called a "sidebar status," and it's visible by sliding open the right panel in the main Facebook app.

There, you can input a status that will stay visible for 12 hours, or until you update or delete it. The status is only visible to your Facebook friends also using the mobile app, and statuses of "close friends" sit at the top of the list, with other friends' status updates below. Like the away message of yore, the sidebar status is designed to reflect what you're doing or feeling at that moment, rather than share photos or information. Wait, isn't that what the Facebook message used to be about anyway? Remember when your name was followed by "is" and then what you were doing? (Here's a screenshot to jog your memory.) Facebook ditched that format back in 2007.

In the time since, other chatting apps have offered some degree of status and away messages: Gchat, WhatsApp, and Hipchat, to name a few. But, these feel more informative than social. On Facebook, which is shared only with friends, having a status would feel more AIM-like. 

But again, the feature isn't available to U.S. users quite yet. Facebook is likely using the Taiwanese and Australian markets to beta test the sidebar status before rolling it out to wider audiences. If you've got this feature, we'd love to hear what sort of statuses you're sharing. In the meantime, we're walking into spiderwebs, so leave a message and we'll call you back. 
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