Facebook wants your Messenger conversations to be more private than ever. The company is testing out a new feature they call “secret conversations.” This feature uses end-to-end encryption to lock up messages.
End-to-end encryption usually means that only the sender and the recipient of the message will be able to unlock and read the message. Even Facebook themselves will be locked out of your secret conversations. Facebook announced this new Messenger feature last Friday in a blog post citing sensitive topics like health and financial information as the foremost reasons users might want such a feature.
Messenger is not the first with end-to-end encryption
Indeed end-to-end encryption has been a hot piece in the tech industry in the recent years. Mainstream tech companies have all jumped abode on this method and integrated it into their products. The major reason for this boom in popularity has been brought about because of increased cybersecurity and surveillance worries. However, some law firms and officials have expressed their displeasure at this method. Most have cited their inability to access criminals and terrorists communications. As a matter of fact, an official cannot obtain encrypted messages even if they had a warrant to do so.
The Messenger feature will have to be activated by the users themselves. Users will have to opt to start a secret conversation. In addition to encrypting users’ messages, the feature will also allow users to set a time limit for how long a message can remain visible in a conversation. However, the secret conversations will not be equipped with features like GIFs or videos.
The Messenger feature will only be available to a few selected users for now. However, Facebook plans to have it rolled out widely later during the summer. The technology is borrowed from Open Whisper Systems which also makes Signal—a free end-to-end encrypted messaging and voice call app. The same technology was used by Facebook to build end-to-end encryption for Whatsapp which it owns. Facebook is looking to follow into Apple’s footsteps. Apple has had end-to-end encryption for its iMessage system since 2011.