End-to-end encryption is coming to Facebook Messenger

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Messages you send on Facebook will soon have extra protection from snooping third parties with a new end-to-end encryption feature called “secret conversations.”

It doesn’t seem like such a long time ago that message encryption was a topic of little interest but with people increasingly concerned with online privacy and surveillance, interest in encryption software has soared and Facebook is joining a host of other messaging apps using it to give their users peace of mind.

Messaging service WhatsApp, which is actually owned by Facebook, started using end-to-end encryption in April. Applealso uses the software in its iMessages and even Googleannounced that its new messaging app Allo would have an end-to-end encryption option available.

Where Facebook will differ from WhatsApp is in the fact that the encryption feature is opt-in rather than applied as a default. This means that the messages you send will only be encrypted when you manually activate the secret conversations option.

Secret conversations will only work on one device so you’ll have to decide which one and it also won’t support rich content such as GIFs, videos, or payments, though this could change in the future.

In addition to encrypting your messages, secret conversation mode will also give you the option to set a self-destruct timer on specific messages in a conversation just for that extra ephemerality.

Facebook Messenger has over 900 million active monthly users making this a huge step for global user privacy. It’s especially timely in terms of user perception that Facebook is rolling out the feature now, too, since it has recently faced criticism from privacy watchdogs over user tracking.

Besides this, as public concern over privacy online grows, it’s essential that Facebook offers encryption in some form if it hopes to remain a messaging platform of choice.

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