Mark Zuckerberg Says They’re Finally Rolling Out Default End-to-End Encryption on Facebook Messenger

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Messenger users may finally have a fully encrypted chat service, though these folks may have to wait a few months before all of their group chats are finally secure.

Meta announced Monday that Messenger users may soon be notified that their service is being upgraded to enable end-to-end encryption for all messages. CEO Mark Zuckerberg first posted a short message about it on his Facebook page, also mentioning that link previews, custom emojis, and new themes will be added in the near future.

In its blog post, the company said that E2E will roll out in the coming months, with users suddenly noticing more of their chats being updated with encryption. Individual chat threads will be notified that they are receiving this change. Meta said this was a “random process” so there were no issues with their own app infrastructure.

The company described how this service would work last August. The change will essentially make E2E encryption default and notify users with a message “Messenger has secured this chat with end-to-end encryption.” The app’s chat list will then contain a small “lock” icon next to chats that are now E2E encrypted. Users have no choice but to accept the new state of affairs, but the company promised it won’t affect users’ ability to view message histories or report problem messages in any way.

Messenger began testing E2E in 2016, the app finally received encrypted video calls in 2021, and enabled opt-in encrypted chats earlier this year. Meta also introduced other features to notify chatters when a user takes a screenshot. E2E is fairly well regarded if implemented correctly. It’s been a long road, but we’re glad to be here, although Meta’s had some explaining to do as to why its other end-to-end encrypted messaging app allowed WhatsApp moderators to bypass its encryption service.

Still, the Zuckerberg-run company is much like other major tech giants finally opening up encryption options for their most-used services. Late last year, Google finally integrated end-to-end encryption into Gmail and added encrypted group chats to Google Messages in December last year. Apple allowed iCloud backup encryption in late 2022.

The most popular messaging apps are just now catching up with other encrypted messaging apps like Signal or Telegram. Some other encrypted messaging apps have found some issues. The European encrypted app Theema was found to be riddled with security vulnerabilities that required patches. Meanwhile, Amazon recently announced that its proprietary encrypted messaging app Wickr would end its user-facing app.

The other features mentioned in the blog include: chat themes, custom emoji drawers, group profile pictures and – finally – link previews specific to newly coded chats.

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