Meta has been promising default end-to-end encryption for Messenger for some time now. After numerous yet limited tests, the moment is finally here, the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said in an announcement.
“After years of work rebuilding Messenger, we've updated the app with default end-to-end encryption for all personal calls and messages. Huge congrats to the team on making this happen,” Zuckerberg posted on Facebook, another Meta platform.
The company said that the end-to-end encryption feature will be available for use immediately. Of course, it may take some time for all Messenger accounts to be updated with default end-to-end encryption.
Messenger previously had the option to turn on end-to-end encryption, allowing a message to be read only by the sender and its recipients, but with this change, messages would be encrypted by default, Meta said. It uses the Signal protocol for the feature.
Meta, whose WhatsApp platform already encrypts messages, has said encryption can help keep users safe from hackers, fraudsters, and criminals. It is, in essence, a security layer as it doesn’t allow Meta or third-party entities to access the content of a chat.
“This has taken years to deliver because we’ve taken our time to get this right. Our engineers, cryptographers, designers, policy experts, and product managers have worked tirelessly to rebuild Messenger features from the ground up,” Meta’s head of Messenger, Loredana Crisan, said in a blog post.
It’s sure been a long and winding road. End-to-end encryption for Messenger was first tested in 2016, and more limited tests followed, but the feature was only tried for individual chats in August 2022.
On its engineering blog, Meta explained that the work took such a long time because the firm had to rebuild certain features, such as the sticker library and chat storage, from scratch.
End-to-end encryption has been a bone of contention between companies and governments. The British government had urged Meta in September not to roll out encryption on Instagram and Facebook Messenger without safety measures to protect children from sexual abuse.
But the social media giant is pushing on. Meta-owned WhatsApp has already achieved full end-to-end protection, and in August, the firm said that Instagram DMs would also get the feature after it was implemented on Messenger.
Meta also said users will now be able to edit their messages on Messenger “that may have been sent too soon” for up to 15 minutes after they have been sent. However, users will still be able to report abuse in a message that has been edited to hide it, and Meta will be able to see the previous version or versions of the edited message.
Among other more modest new features, Meta has introduced speed control for voice messages to play those audio clips at 1.5x or 2x, and users will be able to pick up listening to a voice message from where they left off.