Facebook Messenger announced that they are rolling out the option to make voice and video calls end-to-end encrypted on Messenger, along with updated controls for disappearing messages.
People expect their messaging apps to be secure and private, and with these new features, we’re giving them more control over how private they want their calls and chats to be.
Here is a quick look at what’s new:
Option for end-to-end encrypted voice and video calls: Messenger says it offered the option to secure your one-on-one text chats with end-to-end encryption since 2016. Now, they are introducing calling to this chat mode so you can secure your audio and video calls with this same technology, if you choose.
Updated controls over Disappearing Messages: Messenger also updated the expiring message feature within their end-to-end encrypted chats. They updated this mode to provide more options for people in the chat to choose the amount of time before all new messages disappear. From as few as 5 seconds to as long as 24 hours.
Here are some things Messenger says are coming soon:
End-to-end encrypted group chats and calls in Messenger: They will begin testing end-to-end encryption for group chats, including voice and video calls, for friends and family that already have an existing chat thread or are already connected. They will also begin a test for your delivery controls to work with your end-to-end encrypted chats. That way, you can prevent unwanted interactions by deciding who can reach your chat lists, who goes to your requests folder, and who can’t message you at all.
Opt-in end-to-end encryption for Instagram DMs: Messenger will also do a limited test with adults in certain countries that lets them opt-in to end-to-end encrypted messages and calls for one-on-one conversations on Instagram. Similar to how Messenger works today, you need to have an existing chat or be following each other to start an end-to-end encrypted DM. As always, you can block someone you don’t want to talk to or report something to Messenger if it doesn’t seem right.
I find it interesting that this Messenger post appeared shortly after Apple’s controversial decision to scan the iCloud photos of some users hit the news. Messenger, which is part of Facebook, appears to be trying to look like the “good guys” in this situation.
It is important to keep in mind that Facebook (and its extensions) will continue to gather your data and track you. They are giving you the option to use end-to-end encryption on calls and videos, but probably hope you won’t actually opt-in.