Facebook begins testing default end-to-end encryption on Messenger

From The Verge: Facebook has shared an update on its long-awaited plans to turn on end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default in its Messenger chat platform, saying it has begun testing the feature for chats “between some people” this week.

Facebook currently offers Messenger users the option to turn on E2EE on a per-chat basis, but such opt-in schemes are generally only embraced by a security-conscious minority. Making end-to-end encryption the default will be a big step: adding a substantial layer of security to a chat platform used by more than a billion people worldwide. It’s also likely to trigger arguments with governments who say E2EE hinders their ability to fight crime.

End-to-end encryption means that Facebook cannot view the content of its users’ messages — only participants can. This makes it much harder (though not impossible) for third parties like hackers or law enforcement to snoop on digital conversations.

In recent years, Facebook parent Meta has been slowly adding more layers of encryption to its various chat platforms, but these efforts have not yet been unified. Chats on WhatsApp are encrypted by default using the same protocol offered by industry standard secure messenger Signal; opt-in encryption for Instagram DMs is currently being tested; and Messenger offers E2EE via its “disappearing messages” feature. (The app previously also offered a similar “vanish mode,” but this is being removed, as per Facebook’s update today.)

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