Facebook has announced via a press release that they’re bringing end-to-end encrypted messages to Messenger as of today with a wider rollout expected later this summer. Dubbed “Secret Conversations”, the social network says that sometimes users will want to share something private with a friend or family member (such as a bank account or social security number) and don’t want it to leak out into the world. So, by using the new encrypted messaging style, users will be able to share confidential information or simply talk in private with another Messenger user.
We put people first in everything we do at Messenger, and today we are beginning to roll out a new option within Messenger to better support conversations about sensitive topics. Your messages and calls on Messenger already benefit from strong security systems — Messenger uses secure communications channels (just like banking and shopping websites) as well as Facebook’s powerful tools to help block spam and malware. We’ve heard from you that there are times when you want additional safeguards — perhaps when discussing private information like an illness or a health issue with trusted friends and family, or sending financial information to an accountant.
This feature is still in testing, however it still works like you think it would. After opting in to use this security measurement, you can visit a Messenger user’s profile and select “Secret Conversation”. This will open a chat window where your messages will be sent encrypted over to the recipient of your choice. Then, after 30 minutes of being sent, all messages sent back and forth will begin disappearing to prevent anyone from viewing the information or conversation you had with one another. Other messaging apps like WhatsApp and even Google’s upcoming Allo allow this same security measure to come into play, so really Facebook is simply playing catch up with everyone else. Nonetheless, it’s still nice to see such a popular application finally bring more security to it’s platform.
Facebook explains a bit more about the feature below and explains how rich media like payments, GIFs, and videos aren’t currently supported inside secret conversations alongside the technology used to make end-to-end encryption possible.
To enable you to do this we are starting to test the ability to create one-to-one secret conversations in Messenger that will be end-to-end encrypted and which can only be read on one device of the person you’re communicating with. That means the messages are intended just for you and the other person — not anyone else, including us. Within a secret conversation, you can also choose to set a timer to control the length of time each message you send remains visible within the conversation. Our technology uses the Signal Protocol developed by Open Whisper Systems. You can read more about the technical details here.
Starting a secret conversation with someone is optional. That’s because many people want Messenger to work when you switch between devices, such as a tablet, desktop computer or phone. Secret conversations can only be read on one device and we recognize that experience may not be right for everyone. It’s also important to note that in secret conversations we don’t currently support rich content like GIFs and videos, making payments, or other popular Messenger features.
As of now, we currently don’t have access to secret conversations on Facebook Messenger, however we’ll let you know when we do and give you a hands-on with the feature.
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