Facebook Messenger Now Uses End-to-End Encryption by Default

Meta’s Messenger app finally uses end-to-end encryption by default. This setting still doesn’t work in group chats or group calls, but it greatly improves the privacy of most Messenger interactions.

For most people, end-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a completely invisible upgrade. But it greatly improves the privacy of all users on the Messenger platform. With E2EE, your chats are protected from prying eyes. Meta can’t access the contents of encrypted chats, and if Meta falls victim to a data breach, your protected messages won’t be leaked.

End-to-end encryption has been a years-long project for Meta. A small subset of users gained access to E2EE in 2016, and a wider rollout occurred in 2022. But the E2EE setting was always optional—this is largely due to the fact that chat themes, activity statuses, and other important features were incompatible with E2EE. Now that Meta has solved its compatibility problem, all one-on-one chats are encrypted by default.

Just to reiterate, E2EE is the default option for personal, one-on-one chats and calls. If you want to enable E2EE in a group chat, click the padlock toggle when inviting people to a new group chat.

This update also includes a bunch of small improvements. Messenger finally allows you to disable read receipts, and typo-prone users can now edit their messages. But, to prevent abuse, Meta only allows you to edit messages that are less than 15 minutes old. Meta can also see the full edit history of any messages that are reported.

Messenger no longer allows you to set a custom time for disappearing messages. They now disappear after exactly 24 hours. And the Meta team is testing a high-quality photo sharing system, which should roll out to all users “in the coming months.”

Obviously, Meta isn’t known for respecting user privacy. And, just last year, Meta shared a mother and daughters’ chatlog with the Nebraska police. The best test of Meta’s E2EE system will be time. If Meta is incapable of complying with police warrants (because Meta itself cannot access protected chats), privacy advocates will be far less suspicious of Messenger E2EE.

Before you go and share personal information on Messenger, double-check that your chat is actually encrypted. The new default setting may take a few months to complete its global rollout.

Source: Meta


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