Meta-owned Messenger has announced the launch of end-to-end (E2E) encryption across its platform, meaning chats and calls should be safe from snooping.
Users can now choose whether to have their messages, group chats and calls fully encrypted when logged into the service. One option is to use vanish mode, which can be activated by swiping up on an existing chat to activate a new option where messages automatically disappear when the chat window is closed.
There's also the Secret Conversations feature, first introduced back in 2016, which also offers fully-secured chats and can be toggled on by swiping on the lock icon when starting a new chat.
E2E encryption on Messenger
The launch is a slight surprise, given that Meta said in November 2021 that it would delay the roll out of E2E encryption by default on Messenger and Instagram until 2023 as it examined the effect such a move would have on users.
“We know that people expect their messaging apps to be secure, private and provide them a space to be expressive,” Timothy Buck, Product Manager, Messenger wrote in a company blog post.
“Building secure and fun interactive features takes time and requires our engineers to innovate and solve technical challenges, so this is part of a series of product updates as we keep improving our services. With cybercrime and hacking on the rise, it’s more important than ever to find great ways to connect with friends and family through private and secure communications.”
“We know the importance of safety and privacy when it comes to communicating with the people who matter most to you. End-to-end encryption protects you and your data from hackers, criminals and other prying eyes.”
The news comes shortly after the UK government hired a top ad agency to help it launch a campaign against Meta's plans to introduce E2E for Messenger. The Home Office apparently believes the move will allegedly help criminals, and has pointed to Meta's WhatsApp platform, which also features E2E encryption as an example of unregulated technology leading to crime.
Messenger's rivals have no such qualms, with many having already introduced E2E encryption already. Microsoft Teams announced its E2EE launch in December 2021, with Android Messages adding the facility back in June 2021.
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