Social Media

Facebook Messenger finally starts testing end-to-end encryption for all chats


Meta has announced it will be testing default end-to-end encryption on Facebook Messenger. The social media company said in a press release on Thursday that testing has already begun “between some people” earlier this week, and that it will be working to make the privacy feature default for all messages and calls in 2023.

If you’re part of the test group, your frequent chats will be automatically end-to-end encrypted, thereby rendering end-to-end encryption non-optional. This means that any conversation between you and a friend or family member can’t be accessed by Meta or anyone else. The only way Meta will see your messages is if you report them to the company if they threaten your safety in any way.

Meta

Meta is also testing out secure storage on Android and iOS. This feature helps you back up your encrypted chats in the event your phone gets lost, or you want to restore your message history on a new device that supports end-to-end encryption. These encrypted backups can be protected with a PIN/code, and you can store that PIN in a service like Google Drive or iCloud for easy reference. And it’s important to note the Google Drive and iCloud integration is only for saving your backup’s PIN. The actual backups themselves will only live on Meta’s own servers.

The default end-to-end encryption test comes on the heels of Meta’s involvement in the case of a Nebraska teen facing abortion charges after complying with police to hand over her Messenger chats with her mother discussing the use of an abortion pill to terminate her pregnancy at 24 weeks and plans to bury the fetus afterward. For context, Nebraska’s abortion cutoff is 22 weeks. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, causing people to delete period tracking apps, limit their Google searches for abortion clinics, and wipe other digital footprints for fear of the data being used against them by law enforcement.

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In addition to Messenger, Meta said it will expand default end-to-end encryption to Instagram DMs. The company started testing end-to-end encryption on Instagram through an opt-in setting last year, and expanded the feature to adult users in Russia and Ukraine in February following the former country’s invasion of the latter.

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