Facebook wants you to know that Messenger is getting a little more secure and private (or as private as anything built by the company can be considered). In a nutshell, users now have the option to make voice and video calls end-to-end encrypted on Messenger.
But wait, weren’t those already end-to-end encrypted? Well, that’s what yours truly thought, but the company has only offered this security option for one-on-one text chats in recent years. In a news announcement, Facebook said it decided to add the new end-to-end encryption option to Messenger in light of the increase in audio and video calls in the recent year, which makes sense considering our pandemic restrictions.
The company pointed out that during this period, there were more than 150 million video calls a day on Messenger.
Other Facebook products, such as WhatsApp, already have end-to-end encryption built in. End-to-end encryption ensures that only you and the recipient have access to content in messages and calls. No one else, including Facebook, can read your messages or listen to your calls. Nonetheless, Facebook said users can always report an end-to-end encrypted message “if something’s wrong,” presumably referencing situations like harassment.
End-to-end encryption hasn’t reached all of Messenger yet, including group chats as well as group voice and video calls. Facebook said it would be testing these features with some users in the coming weeks.
In addition, Facebook also unveiled an update to its disappearing messages feature in Messenger, which allows users to control how long someone can see their messages in a chat before they disappear. With the update, users have more options to specify how soon they want their messages to disappear, ranging from five seconds to 24 hours.
Finally, the company will also be testing end-to-end encryption on Instagram direct messages. This test will involve adults from certain countries and will allow them to opt-in to receive end-to-end encrypted messages and calls for one-on-one conversations.