Meta has long been working on end-to-end encryption for its messaging products, but so far, only WhatsApp has switched on the privacy feature by default. In its latest update about its efforts, Meta said it will start testing default end-to-end encrypted chats for select users on Messenger. Those chosen to be part of the test will find that some of their most frequent chats have been automatically end-to-end encrypted. That means there’s no reason to start “Secret Conversations” with those friends anymore.
The company is also testing secure storage for encrypted chats, which gives users access to their conversation history in case they lose their phone or want to restore it on a new device. To be able to access their backups through security storage, users will have to create a PIN or generate codes that they’ll then have to save. Those two are end-to-end encrypted options and provide another layer of protection. That said, users can also opt to use cloud services to restore conversations — those with iOS devices, for instance, can use iCloud to store the secret key needed to access their backups. Meta will also begin testing secure storage this week, but only on Android and iOS. It’s still not available for Messenger on the web or for unencrypted chats.
The other tests Meta is rolling out in the coming weeks include bringing regular Messenger features to end-to-end encrypted chats. It will test the ability to unsend messages and to send replies to Facebook Stories as encrypted chats, and it’s also planning to bring end-to-end encrypted calls to the Calls Tab on Messenger. Ray-Ban Stories users will be able to send encrypted hands-free messages through Messenger, as well.
In addition, Meta is launching a new security feature called Code Verify, which is an open-source browser extension for Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge. As its name implies, it can verify the authenticity of the Messenger website’s web code and ensure that it hasn’t been tampered with. The company is retiring Messenger’s vanish mode chats, as well, but will be keeping its disappearing messages feature. As for Instagram, Meta is expanding ongoing tests for opt-in end-to-end encrypted messages and calls on the app.
All of these are part of Meta’s preparations as it works its way towards the global rollout of default end-to-end encryption for messages and calls on its services. It plans to launch even more tests and updates before its target rollout sometime in 2023.
Update 08/11/22 11:15AM ET: Clarified that Meta is killing vanish mode for Messenger, not for Instagram.