Facebook Messenger has officially begun the rollout of default end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for individual chats and calls, according to an announcement by Meta on Wednesday. Over the upcoming weeks and months, existing conversations on the platform will be safeguarded by E2EE, and new chats will automatically benefit from this technology. The enhanced security features of E2EE Messenger chats will include the ability to unsend messages, set chat themes, and send custom message reactions, maintaining parity with previously unencrypted conversations.
Loredana Crisan, Head of Messenger, revealed in a post that both one-on-one chats and calls will now enjoy end-to-end encryption. Meta collaborated with experts, governments, academics, and advocates to strike a balance between privacy and safety during the development of these features.
Similar to WhatsApp, owned by Meta, Messenger chats are now inaccessible to the company, except under specific circumstances. Meta retains the ability to view the contents of E2EE messages when a participant reports the conversation’s contents – a mechanism also present in WhatsApp.
In January 2022, Meta upgraded Secret Conversations, its opt-in E2EE chats feature on Messenger, with additional features such as sending GIFs and stickers, setting chat themes, and enabling the 24-hour disappearing message mode, which notifies users of screenshot attempts.
Meta has been working towards default encrypted chats for years, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg announcing the plan for Instagram and Messenger. The company has implemented the Signal Protocol, known for its use in Signal, and its proprietary Labyrinth Protocol.
While the transition to E2EE chats is underway, not all users will witness an immediate upgrade. Crisan mentioned that “it may take some time for Messenger chats to be updated with default end-to-end encryption,” indicating a gradual rollout.
It’s important to note that features like optional E2EE encryption for Instagram chats have yet to reach users in certain regions, including India. Gadgets 360 has sought details from the company regarding the rollout in the country. Meta is expected to introduce default E2EE chats on Instagram after completing the Messenger rollout.