UPDATED 11:50 EDT / DECEMBER 07 2023


Messenger gets end-to-end encryption privacy enabled by default

Meta Platforms Inc. is finally upgrading Messenger to be end-to-end encrypted by default, ending a multiyear journey to make the messaging app secure for its users.

The company announced the completion of the project on Wednesday, noting that the upgrade will bring E2EE, as it’s known in short, to all users without them having to select the option, which has been available since 2016. The original feature set was included as an option called Secret Conversations and now it’s implemented directly into chats as a foundational service.

“This has taken years to deliver because we’ve taken our time to get this right,” said Loredana Crisan, vice president of Messenger. “Our engineers, cryptographers, designers, policy experts and product managers have worked tirelessly to rebuild Messenger features from the ground up.”

This represents the most significant move for the project for bringing security to the company’s platforms since 2019, when Meta Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg outlined his vision for privacy-focused messaging in a blog post. “People’s private communications should be secure,” he wrote. “End-to-end encryption prevents anyone — including us — from seeing what people share on our services.”

Over that time, Meta’s engineers worked on producing an E2EE system that would enable users of Messenger and Facebook to know that their chats were secure as no third parties could intercept them, and as Zuckerberg said, that includes Meta.

To support this new system, Meta looked to existing end-to-end encryption protocols, including Signal Protocol, which underpins the encrypted messaging app Signal. Meta designed its own new encrypted storage system called Labyrinth. With the Labyrinth Protocol, encrypted texts are uploaded to Meta’s servers on-demand by clients with keys that are rotated when clients are removed, ensuring that messages always remain secure and private.

Meta also permits users to edit their messages up to 15 minutes after they have been sent. This means that users have a short window of time in case they sent their message too soon, or if they simply have something to change. However, previous versions of the edited message will be visible to Meta if reported for abuse.

Disappearing messages on Messenger now exist for 24 hours after being sent, with an interface change that will better inform users that they are viewing a disappearing message. These types of self-erasing messages will be available only for end-to-end encrypted conversations, but inappropriate disappearing messages can still be reported. The system is also designed to inform users if a screenshot is taken of a disappearing message.

A new “read receipts” control now allows users to decide if senders will know if the message was viewed or not. “We know people value their privacy, and this feature gives you the ability to feel less pressure to respond immediately,” Crisan said.

Meta also announced upgrades to its photo and video messaging features on Messenger, including easier access, upgraded video quality and more controls for reacting to media. Improvements to high-definition media and file sharing are also in the works. Voice messaging improvements have also been implemented that allow users to play audio at 1.5- or two-times speed, and to allow users to pick up listening where they left off.

Photo: Pixabay

A message from John Furrier, co-founder of SiliconANGLE:

Your vote of support is important to us and it helps us keep the content FREE.

One click below supports our mission to provide free, deep, and relevant content.  

Join our community on YouTube

Join the community that includes more than 15,000 #CubeAlumni experts, including Amazon.com CEO Andy Jassy, Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, and many more luminaries and experts.

“TheCUBE is an important partner to the industry. You guys really are a part of our events and we really appreciate you coming and I know people appreciate the content you create as well” – Andy Jassy