Have you ever written something silly or personal on Facebook Messenger and later cringed at the thought of somebody else reading it? Well Messenger has offered you a long awaited lifeline, and now gives you the option to have ‘secret conversations’.
Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp, both which already have encryption – was it about time that Facebook’s own mainline messaging app allowed users to send end-to-end encrypted messages? Facebook are perhaps hoping to keep users loyal to Messenger by keeping up with their other apps.
The new security and privacy feature for Messenger differs from Facebook’s usual business model, which is to gather as much data as possible from users. Facebook will continue to use your personal information, however they will no longer be able to view the secret messages you send on Messenger.
David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging products, said: “We wanted to make Messenger your primary messaging platform, and while we currently were already using a lot of security to ensure that your messages are safe and confidential, we felt that we needed to go one more extra step with this new mode.”
So how does it work? Firstly, make sure you are using the latest version of Messenger. Now, open up a conversation, tap on the name of your recipient, and select ‘Secret Conversation’. If you want to set an expiration for your message (Snapchat, anyone?), tap the time icon and select an end time.
Secret conversations can only be read on the recipient’s phone or mobile device, so they cannot be intercepted by a hacker. Once you start a secret conversation, an encryption key is added to both devices. You won’t be able to see them on any other device you sign into Messenger on.
The messenger app boasts 900 million users every month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed during the company’s Q1 2016 earnings conference call. Now that there are so many alternatives to the traditional SMS, it seems a natural progression that Facebook introduce a free platform where users can rely on it for day-to-day communication for personal or business use.