Facebook Messenger is finally rolling out support for end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default for individual chats and calls, the company announced on Wednesday. In the coming weeks and months, Facebook parent Meta says existing conversations will be protected by E2EE and new chats will also be protected by the technology. The company says that E2EE Messenger chats will offer the same features as previously unencrypted conversations including the ability to unsend messages, set chat themes, and send custom message reactions.
In a post detailing the launch of the new features, Messenger head Loredana Crisan said that both one-on-one chats and calls on the messaging app will now be protected by end-to-end encryption. Meta collaborated with experts and governments, academics and advocates to ensure a balance of privacy and safety, according to Crisan.
Just like WhatsApp, which is also owned by Meta, chats on Messenger can no longer be accessed by the company — with one exception. Meta will be able to see the contents of E2EE messages when a conversation participant reports the contents of a conversation — WhatsApp offers the same reporting mechanism.
In January 2022, Meta updated Secret Conversations — its opt-in E2EE chats feature on Messenger — with support for features that are available on regular chats. These include the ability to send GIFs and stickers in chats. Users can also set chat themes in secret conversations. Enabling the 24-hour disappearing message mode in E2EE chats will also alert users when another participant takes a screenshot, according to Meta.
Messenger's E2EE chats have been updated with support for features found on regular chats
Photo Credit: Meta
Meta has been working on enabling encrypted chats by default for years now, and the first indication of the company's efforts was revealed years ago when Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the firm was adding support for default E2EE chats for both Instagram and Messenger.
The company says that it has implemented the Signal Protocol (used on Signal, widely considered the gold standard in encrypted messaging apps) and the firm's own Labyrinth Protocol.
However, not all users will see their conversations upgraded to E2EE chats immediately. Crisan notes that "it may take some time for Messenger chats to be updated with default end-to-end encryption", which suggests that the rollout could take a considerable amount of time.
It is worth noting that features like optional E2EE encryption for chats on Instagram are yet to roll out to users in some regions, including India. Gadgets 360 has reached out to the company for details of the rollout to users in the country. Meta is expected to enable E2EE chats by default on Instagram once the Messenger rollout is complete.
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