Now You Can Encrypt Your Messages on Facebook Messenger

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Last year saw Whatsapp fortify its app by creating the biggest end-to-end encrypted messaging network. End to end encryption means that your conversation is encrypted at each end, which includes your device and Facebook’s servers. Hence no one can snoop on your private conversations. Now Facebook, the company that owns Whatsapp, has at last added this new layer of security to its Messenger app.

Facebook rolled out its secure messaging channel, “Secret Conversations”, which is an opt-in feature, to all Facebook Messenger users that would allow users to encrypt their messages so that no one, but the sender and the receiver can read them.

The Secret Conversation encryption system was developed by Open Whisper Systems, which first included it in their messaging app Signal, before partnering with other companies. This is also found in Google’s Allo messenger.

“Your messages are already secure, but Secret Conversations are encrypted from one device to another,” states a message in the app when users make their first encrypted communication.

There is no mention of this feature in Messenger’s iOS and Android updates. However, Messenger users will find the “secret” feature on the top right of the “new message” screen or you can tap on a contact and chose Secret Conversation from the list. Message expiration times can also be set ranging from five seconds to one day. Users must also make sure they are using the updated version of the application since only the updated app can send or receive encrypted messages.

 

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To differentiate between regular chats and protected chats, Facebook uses a black background for text instead of the usual blue. You will also notice a small lock sign over the contact’s picture.

One factor I do not like about this feature however is that it needs to be enabled manually for each and every conversation unlike in Whatsapp or Signal in which encryption is enabled by default. The reason I believe Facebook does not want to enable encryption by default could be due to the fact that end to end encryption will not allow Facebook’s AI bots to access chat data enabling Facebook to monetize chats.

Nonetheless, opt-in or not, millions of Messenger users can now encrypt their messages thanks to the strong and simple encryption system.

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