Facebook Messenger’s end-to-end encrypted feature is now available to everyone

messenger paypal facebook
With 1 billion users from WhatsApp and 900 million users from Messenger, Facebook is about to dominate the end-to-end encryption messaging wars. The social network giant has finally made “secret conversations” in Facebook Messenger available to all users, following a beta test of the feature in July.

Secret conversations allow you to have a fully encrypted chat with another Messenger user that cannot be seen by anyone — not Facebook, the FBI, or the NSA. However, instead of automatically enabling the function for all users (in the vein of WhatsApp), Facebook has put the power in your hands. Consequently, you have to activate the encryption feature every time you wish to have a private conversation.

There are two ways you can enable a secret conversation. When you open the app, you can initiate the feature by tapping to compose a new message, and then selecting the “secret” option at the top right, after which you can choose whom to chat with. If you wish to trigger a secret conversation within an existing thread, start by tapping on the person’s name you’re chatting with at the top of the app. You’ll be taken to the thread’s profile, where you can tweak other settings like the color of the thread, add nicknames, and more — these are features that were introduced a while back.

You’ll find secret conversations in there, and once you tap it you’ll enter the end-to-end encrypted thread with the same person. For more secure messages, you can set a timer for when the message should disappear. Both the sender and recipient must have the latest version of Facebook Messenger installed for the feature to work.

“Secret Conversations can only be read on one device and we recognize that experience may not be right for everyone,” reads a Facebook blog post on the feature. “It’s also important to note that in secret conversations we don’t currently support rich content like GIFs and videos, making payments, or other popular Messenger features.”

Keep in mind that secret conversations cannot be applied to group messages, and do not appear on Messenger for desktop. You also have the option to delete all your encrypted chats in one go from within your Messenger profile tab.

While the National Security Agency leaks from 2013 by Edward Snowden may have turned the spotlight to privacy, it was really the court battle, or lack thereof, between Apple and the FBI that jump-started the encryption war. The showdown began with the 2015 San Bernardino shootings, where the shooter left behind a locked iPhone.

Apple initially aided the FBI, but the bureau secured a court order requiring the Cupertino company to create a tool to weaken the iPhone’s encrypted framework. Apple rejected the court order, but the FBI dropped both that case and another related one when it managed to break into the subject iPhones thanks to a technique it purchased from professional hackers.

That jump-started a wave of messaging apps to enable end-to-end encryption app-wide — Wire, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, and Viber turned on the secure messaging function for all users. Then, in September, Google followed suit with the launch of its AI-assisted Allo messaging app, which came with its very own Incognito Mode that uses end-to-end encryption. The mode is a compromise — a way to have end-to-end encryption while still being able to use features like the artificially intelligent Google Assistant, a Google representative told Digital Trends.

The same goes for Messenger, although Facebook may have chosen to go down the manual activation route after witnessing the obstacles faced by WhatsApp in countries such as Brazil, whose government has clashed with the company over data decryption. It’s worth mentioning that other messaging apps have been deploying end-to-end encryption for a while, including Apple’s iMessage, Telegram, Threema, Signal, and more.

Secret Conversation’s encryption protocol, Signal, comes from Open Whisper Systems, the non-profit that powers end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp, Allo, and Signal, its own messaging app.

facebook messenger

The social network giant has released a white paper on Messenger’s end-to-end encrypted features, which provides a technical overview of how secret conversations work. You can check it out here.

Updated on 09-21-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added news of general secret conversations rollout.

Updated on 10-04-2016 by Saqib Shah: Added news of general launch of secret conversations and activation instructions.

Social Media

Facebook says it unintentionally uploaded email contacts of 1.5 million users

Facebook says that over the last two years it unintentionally uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users as they signed up to the social networking service. The process has ended and the email addresses are being deleted.
Smart Home

There will be 200 million smart speakers by year’s end, analysts say

A new report by the research and analysis firm Canalys predicts that more than 200 million smart speakers will be engaged by users by the end of 2019, which is a growth of over 82% from last year.
Social Media

No more moon showers as Facebook Messenger’s dark mode gets official rollout

Facebook Messenger launched a dark mode last month, but to activate it you had to message the crescent moon to someone. Now it's been rolled out officially, and it can be accessed in a far more sensible way — via settings.
Social Media

Messenger and Facebook, together again? Facebook tests integrating chats

Longing for the old days where Facebook and Messenger were one app? Facebook is testing an integrated chat option. While Messenger remains more feature-rich, the test brings some chat functionality back into the Facebook app.
Mobile

The Department of Justice may prevent the T-Mobile-Sprint merger

T-Mobile and Sprint are getting closer to merging. After a few failed attempts, the two companies announced their merger at the start of 2018. The new T-Mobile could be better positioned to take on the likes of Verizon and AT&T.
Mobile

Spruce up your Lenovo smartphone with the best Moto Mods for the Moto Z-series

Moto Mods, the snap-on accessories compatible with Lenovo's Moto Z-series smartphones add a lot of value without adding a lot of bulk. Looking to try one out? Here are a few of our favorite Moto Mods.
Mobile

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL will be coming to the U.S. with T-Mobile

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.
Mobile

The Pixel 3 range will soon be coming to T-Mobile's network

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Mobile

Keep your new iPad (2018) sparkling with the best screen protectors

Your iPad sports a stunning 9.7-inch screen and you'll want it to stay that way. The best iPad (2018) screen protectors guard against cracks, scratches, and even smudging from your fingers. Check out our top picks here.
Mobile

Intel gives up on 5G modems for smartphones, will focus on other devices

After a delay that saw Intel's manufacture of 5G modems pushed back to 2020, Intel has given up on the 5G modem business, and will focus its efforts elsewhere. But is something else to blame?
Mobile

The black satin Razer Phone 2 is now available for $500

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Mobile

The best LG G7 ThinQ cases will keep your phone looking new

The LG G7 ThinQ comes with a powerful processor, versatile cameras, and amazing sound. But a powerful phone still needs protection and you might want to change the style. Here are the best LG G7 ThinQ cases.
Mobile

Multiple phone leaks show May 21 is going to be a big day for Honor

Honor will launch at least one new smartphone on May 21, at an event taking place in London. Leaks have indicated the Honor 20 will take center stage, with a Lite version, and perhaps even another model also showing up on the day.
Mobile

Breaking news: Samsung responds to reported Galaxy Fold display issues

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.