Facebook tries out end-to end encryption
WASHINGTON: Facebook is taking a big step toward keeping Messenger users’ conversations safe from prying eyes: the company is testing a new feature it calls “secret conversations”, which uses end- to- end encryption to lock up messages.
Using end- to- end encryption means only the sender and recipient of a message will able to unlock and read it.
In a blog post yesterday announcing the test, Facebook highlighted sensitive topics like health and financial information as among the reasons users might want to use it.
End-to-end encryption has seen a boom in popularity in recent years as mainstream tech companies have started integrating it into their products amid heightened cybersecurity and surveillance fears.
But that boom has also raised concerns from some law enforcement officials that it could stop them from being able to access the communications of criminals and terrorists even when investigators obtain a warrant.
The Messenger feature will not be turned on by default; users will have to choose to start a secret conversation. In addition to providing end-toend protections, the feature will also allow users to set a time limit for how long each message will remain visible. However, secret conversations currently don’t support some popular features, like sharing GIFs.
Only a limited number of Messenger users will be able to try out the feature for now, but Facebook says it plans to make it more widely available later this year.
Messenger’s secret conversations rely on technology from Open Whisper Systems, which also makes the free end-to-end encrypted messaging and voice call app Signal.
The company is following in the footsteps of Apple, whose iMessage system has protected users’ conversations with end-to-end encryption since 2011. – Washington Post