Messenger finally gets end-to-end encryption by default – The Verge

Meta is introducing end-to-end encryption for individual chats and calls in Messenger, finally fulfilling a promise that has been in the works for a long time. When end-to-end encryption is enabled, only you and the person you send a message to on Messenger can see its contents, the company claims.

Encrypted chats were first introduced in 2016 as an opt-in feature in Messenger, but after a long time, end-to-end encrypted messages and calls will become the standard for conversations between two people.

“It took years to implement because we took the time to do it right,” said Loredana Crisan, vice president of Messenger, in a statement shared with The Verge. “Our engineers, cryptographers, designers, policy experts and product managers have worked tirelessly to build Messenger features from the ground up.”

According to Crisan, you won’t have to miss out on messenger features when using encrypted chats, so you can still enjoy things like themes and custom reactions. However, Crisan points out that it could “take some time” until all Messenger chats are switched to standard encryption.

Encrypted Messenger chats require you to create a PIN if you want to transfer them to a new device.

Although this is a good step, end-to-end encryption for group messenger chats is still optional for now. Instagram messages are also not encrypted by default, although Meta said in August that this would happen “shortly after” the introduction of standard private Messenger chats.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in 2019 that the company planned to move to encrypted, ephemeral messages in its messaging apps. “I believe that the future of communications will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident that what they say to each other remains secure and that their messages and content do not persist forever,” wrote he said in a Facebook post. “This is the future I hope we will help shape.”

Enabling encryption by default means that Meta not only cannot see the contents of most messenger chats, but also cannot pass them on to law enforcement. Last year, the company made headlines when a 17-year-old from Nebraska and her mother were charged with an illegal abortion after police obtained their Messenger chat history. Anti-encryption advocates say the technology makes it harder to find bad actors on messaging apps like WhatsApp, which are already encrypted by default.