Meta is rolling out end-to-end encryption for calls and messages across its Facebook and Messenger platforms, the company announced Thursday, a major update considered a victory for privacy advocates but that draws concerns from law enforcement and child protection groups that the feature will hamper efforts to tackle abuse and crime.
Meta said personal calls and chats across its Facebook and Messenger platforms will be fully encrypted by default going forward.
Loredana Crisan, who heads up the Messenger platform, said the encryption means “nobody, including Meta, can see what’s sent or said,” unless a user reports a message to the company.
Crisan said the feature will be available immediately but that it will take the company “some time” to update all Messenger chats with the encryption as standard.
Messenger has allowed users to opt-in for encrypted messages since 2016 but Crisan said default encryption has “taken years to deliver because we’ve taken our time to get this right.”
Crisan said the rollout deploys the protocols used by the popular Signal app and Meta’s own in-house cryptography standards and required features to be rebuilt from the “ground up.”
Meta worked with outside experts, academics, governments and advocates to ensure the privacy update does not undermine user safety, Crisan added.
“After years of work rebuilding Messenger, we’ve updated the app with default end-to-end encryption for all personal calls and messages,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “Huge congrats to the team on making this happen.”
Zuckerberg announced plans to bring end-to-end encryption to Meta’s entire family of platforms—which includes photo sharing platform Instagram, messaging app WhatsApp, Facebook and Messenger—back in 2019. He outlined a more privacy-focused vision for the company after it suffered a string of bruising, high profile scandals, notably data use by Cambridge Analytica. Demand for stronger privacy settings has continued to grow in recent years, including after U.S. police used Messenger chat history when investigating an alleged illegal abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
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Instagram is not yet covered by the new standard, though the company suggests this will happen soon. In August, Meta said it had plans to roll out the new security standard to Instagram “shortly after” its launch on Messenger, though it did not provide a timeline for this.
While privacy advocates have long sought stronger privacy standards on social platforms like Facebook and Messenger, the proposals are not universally welcome. Police and governments have warned encryption could endanger security and hamper efforts to combat crime by making it harder to monitor bad actors and obtain evidence of criminal activity. Child safety advocates warn tougher encryption could help potential child abusers effectively hide online. The tension fits within a wider discussion in technology that pits privacy against security, with tech companies like Apple pushing back against government efforts to introduce backdoors or surveillance powers to skirt security protocols.
$112.6 billion. That’s Zuckerberg’s estimated net worth, according to Forbes’ real time tracker. Zuckerberg’s wealth, which primarily stems from his founding of Facebook, makes him the seventh richest person in the world, behind the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Facebook was rebranded as Meta Platforms in 2021 as part of the company’s pivot towards the metaverse. Over the course of their lifetimes, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have pledged to give away 99% of their stake in Meta.
Today, tech giant, Meta, announced the launch of end-to-end encryption for messages and content sent through Facebook and Messenger.
Meta is known in the tech industry for developing cutting-edge communication tools that prioritize both privacy and convenience. This latest announcement is no exception. With the launch of end-to-end encryption, Meta has added a feature to its popular social networks that enhances user safety.
End-to-end encryption works by scrambling the user’s data via an encryption algorithm prior to sending the message. This means that the message is not readable to anyone but the intended recipient. The encryption also prevents it from being altered or shared without the sender’s permission.
According to Meta, adding the feature was a top priority for its team. “The idea is to ensure complete privacy and security of user data,” said CEO Marissa Mayer. “We are committed to providing our users with the newest and best tools to help them stay connected and secure their conversations.”
The end-to-end encryption feature is currently available globally in all languages across both platforms. It is enabled by default and users can choose to turn it off if they prefer.
The launch of end-to-end encryption solidifies Meta’s commitment to user privacy. With the rapidly growing popularity of online communication, Meta now stands at the forefront of protecting users from cyber threats.