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Technology / Facebook makes end-to-end encryption available to all Messenger users

Facebook makes end-to-end encryption available to all Messenger users

Nearly one billion Facebook Messenger users can now use its end-to-end encryption feature, the social network has announced.

Although Facebook began trialling "secret conversations" back in July, they are now available to the app's entire user base of 900 million, the firm told Wired.

As well as giving users the ability to turn the feature on for chats with their contacts, they can also now set Snapchat-style self-destruct timers on their messages.

However, encryption is not available for everything, and while stickers and pictures can be sent in an encrypted format, GIFs and videos cannot.

To use the end-to-end encryption feature in a conversation, both users must have the latest version of Messenger, and they must stick to one device each.

Facebook Messenger is just the latest service to adopt end-to-end encryption.

WhatsApp, which is itself owned by the social media company, introduced the feature back in April, encrypting users’ conversations by default to protect them against snooping.

In fact, some security experts have criticised Facebook over its implementation in Messenger, arguing that the majority of chats will still go unencrypted due to its opt-in nature.

“Opt-in encryption favours educated users who have the time to learn about obscure security settings,” tweeted Christopher Soghoian. “Not cool Facebook.”

End-to-end encryption like that which is now available in Messenger has been the subject of much debate in recent years as governments have attempted to restrict its use.

In the UK, the government’s Snooper’s Charter could force firms to install backdoors in their encryption – a move security experts say could be taken advantage of by hackers.

Kevin Bocek, chief security strategist at Venafi, called the move “yet another example of how governments across the world are trying to break encryption”.

“The message is clear,” he said. “They want the master ‘god key’ to unlock all data, and are so desperate to get it that they don’t care about the dangers that will create.”


Photo © Kārlis Dambrāns (CC BY 2.0). Cropped.

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