While we may have to wait a little longer to see end-to-end encryption (E2EE) come to Facebook Messenger, Meta (previously Facebook) has announced that they have rolled E2EE out to group chats and calls in Messenger. Additionally, another security feature has been added to Messenger that brings in screenshot notifications in E2EE chats, like in Snapchat. This feature will alert the user if someone takes a photo from Messenger’s disappearing messages. Messenger users will also be able to add GIFs, stickers, and reactions to their encrypted chats.
Meta had announced support for E2EE group chats and calls in August last year so that users could keep their personal conversations safe from “criminals and non-state surveillance”. Many governments were not too pleased with the plans stating that Meta’s increased encryption efforts would “complicate law enforcement’s ability to investigate crimes”.
However, Meta pointed out that E2EE is already used by messaging platforms like WhatsApp and is slowly becoming an industry standard.
Meta, however, did not launch E2EE for group calls and chats when they made the announcement last year. They did start testing the feature though for friends and family who already had ongoing chat threads. The company also said it would begin testing delivery controls that would work for E2EE chats and allow users to “prevent unwanted interactions so they could decide who went to their chat list, their message request folder, and who couldn’t message at all”. The feature has since rolled out to users globally and can be turned on for private conversations.
Messenger is also going to warn users if someone takes a screenshot of a disappearing message in E2EE chats. This feature already exists in Messenger’s vanish mode. This vanish mode works similar to what we’ve seen on Snapchat where messages disappear after they have been seen.
With this new Messenger feature, of someone takes a snapshot of a vanish mode chat, or a disappearing message in E2EE chats, users will receive a notification. Meta said that this notification feature will roll out over the next few weeks.
Additionally, E2EE chats are also getting access to features like GIFs, stickers, reactions, the option to reply to a specific thread, typing indications, options to forward a message, etc, some of which already existed for non-E2EE chats. Media on E2EE chats can now be saved by long-pressing on the photo or video and videos and photos can also be edited before they are sent.
All the new features are rolling out in a phased manner on all Messenger platforms, including web and mobile.
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