After an extended period of assurances and limited trials, Meta has initiated the deployment of default end-to-end encryption for Messenger. In a public statement, Mark Zuckerberg declared that personal conversations and calls on Messenger will now have default end-to-end encryption. However, encryption for group chats will still be an opt-in feature.
End-to-end encryption serves as a crucial security layer, preventing Meta and other third-party entities from accessing the content of a chat.
“This has taken years to deliver because we’ve taken 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,” stated Loredana Crisan, Meta’s Head of Messenger, in a blog post.
Meta introduced the end-to-end encryption feature on Messenger through a limited test in 2016 via a “secret conversations” mode. In 2021, the company extended the encryption feature to voice and video calls on the app and also introduced an end-to-end encryption option for group chats and calls in January 2022. Subsequently, in August 2022, Meta initiated testing for end-to-end encryption in individual chats. The company further declared its plan to implement default end-to-end encryption by the end of August 2023.
According to Meta’s engineering blog, the rollout of end-to-end encryption, which utilizes the Signal protocol, took an extended period because the company had to rebuild specific features, such as the sticker library and chat storage, from the ground up.
With this rollout, Messenger moves closer to achieving full end-to-end protection, akin to another Meta-owned chat app, WhatsApp. In August, the company indicated that Instagram DMs would receive end-to-end encryption protection following the Messenger rollout.
In addition to this security enhancement, Meta is introducing new features for Messenger. These include being able to edit a message up to 15 minutes after sending, speed control for voice messages enabling the playback of audio clips at 1.5x or 2x speed, new photo and video layouts, and a redesigned interface for disappearing messages. The company also confirmed ongoing efforts to enable sending HD photos and videos on Messenger.