Facebook's 'Secret Conversations' brings end-to-end encryption to its one billion Messenger users

Facebook has completed the roll out of its ‘Secret Conversations’ feature to each and every one of its Messenger users. The feature was rolled out to beta users in July and started rolling out to regular users in September.


Facebook has completed the roll out of its ‘Secret Conversations’ feature to each and every one of its Messenger users. The feature was rolled out to beta users in July and started rolling out to regular users in September.

Facebook Messenger’s Secret Conversations feature enables end-to-end encryption for conversations between two devices. Setting this implementation of encryption apart from other methods used by the likes of WhatsApp and Allo is the fact that this encryption is opt-in and limited to two participating devices.

This means that users will need to explicitly enable Secret Conversations for every, well, secret conversation that you want to have. Encryption keys are stored on your device and the conversation is limited to the participating devices. In fact, any Secret Conversation will be unique to the participating devices. You can’t access it via a different device or via your browser.

A secret conversation will follow a black colour theme so as not to confuse it with a regular conversation.

The protocol used is the same one that’s used by Snowden’s favourite messaging app, Signal. It’s been developed by Open Whisper systems to be extremely secure, and it is. The system ensures absolute privacy between two devices and integrates a number of checks to ensure that conversations are secure.

The downside to Secret Conversations is that you can’t send gifs or video and are limited to stickers and images. You also can’t use this system for group conversations.

Opting in for encryption might seem like an odd move from a company that made end-to-end encryption the default mode of operation on its other messaging app, WhatsApp. However, TheNextWeb suggests that this move by Facebook is an attempt to bypass legal hassles. WhatsApp has gotten into trouble with various governments, including the Indian government, over this policy.

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