Facebook Messenger has become the latest social media platform to introduce an end-to-end encryption feature to its messaging app, thus making conversations entirely private and secretive. Before this, other messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Line have introduced end-to-end encryption to their respective apps, making users feel more secured when using these apps. Facebook Messenger which currently has over 900 million users all over the globe, is set to follow suit, and will soon introduce a new feature called “Secret Conversations” which can be accessed from the Messenger app itself.
Facebook Messenger will start rolling out the new feature to a select group of users starting today. The way “Secret Conversations” will work is that you just need to start a secret chat with any Facebook friend and the chat will be end-to-end encrypted. This is highly secure as only you and the person on the other end of the chat can access and read the chat. This means that cyber-criminals, law enforcement agencies, the government and even Facebook itself can’t read the conversations. However, this means that some features on Facebook Messenger such as chat bots and the ability to conduct payments will not work. On top of end-to-end encryption, Facebook has introduced a timer option to secret conversations. If you enable this feature, messages will have an expiration date and the messages will be automatically deleted from the devices of participants in the conversation after a certain period of time.
Secret conversations threads can only be viewed on one device per user and will not be accessible through the cloud for added security. Since, secret conversations will impact the usage of many popular features in the Messenger app, it will be optional for users to enable it. Messenger’s secret conversation feature is built on Signal Protocol which was developed by Open Whisper Systems. WhatsApp which is owned by Facebook, also uses Signal Protocol for its end-to-end encryption feature. With this new feature, it will be harder for law enforcement agencies to gain access to Messenger conversations even with the help of Facebook. The feature is set to roll out globally to all Messenger accounts by September and for now, it will only be available on Android and iOS, not on Messenger.com or the Messenger app for desktop.