We’re constantly reevaluating our priorities and have decided to discontinue YouTube’s native direct messaging feature while we focus on improving public conversations,” explained a YouTube employee in the service’s help section.
YouTube Messages allowed users to share clips with their contacts, chat with them, and even start group conversations with up to 30 people. The feature first launched within YouTube’s mobile apps, and eventually made its way to the web as well.
It doesn’t seem like the feature ever gained a whole lot of traction, but users who did have meaningful exchanges with their friends via private messaging can download their YouTube Message archives via the company’s Takeout service.
Private messaging on YouTube was seen as one way for the company to fight back against Snapchat and Instagram, but those efforts have more recently been focused on public sharing. To that end, YouTube introduced its own Stories format last year.