After WhatsApp, Facebook Rolls Out ‘Secret Conversation’ With End-to-End Encryption!
Facebook has announced that they are rolling out end-to-end encryption feature for chat messages on their Android and iOS Messenger app besides desktop and tablet platforms. This means that once this option is enabled, no one including Facebook would be able to read and access these ‘secret conversations’. Only the sender and the receiver will have access to such chats.
WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has rolled out fully encrypted messages feature in April this year, which set an interesting precedent globally.
However, there is a major difference between these two encryptions: while WhatsApp messages, images, videos etc are automatically encrypted, Facebook has decided to put encryption as an option for the end user.
Thus, in case a user decides to share stickers and common messages, then he or she may opt out of encryption; but in case sensitive data such as bank account numbers, health records etc are shared, then those can be encrypted for more privacy.
Facebook said, “..We are starting to test the ability to create one-to-one secret conversations in Messenger that will be end-to-end encrypted and which can only be read on one device of the person you’re communicating with. That means the messages are intended just for you and the other person — not anyone else, including us..”
Features of Facebook Secret Conversations
First and foremost, it is an optional setting, which the user can opt to activate.
Besides, there would be a ‘timer’ option, which will decide for how long that particular message can be visible on the receiver’s end. After the timer limit is off, that message will be deleted automatically.
During the ‘secret conversation’, Facebook users won’t be able to share stickers, GIFs, videos or in some cases, payment options would be disabled. Only text messages would be encrypted for users.
Another interesting limitation: Encryption of messages will only work on one device at a time; hence, if a user is simultaneously chatting via smartphone and desktop, then encrypted messages can only be activated on one device.
As with WhatsApp, Facebook’s encryption technology has been based on Signal Protocol which was developed by Open Whisper Systems. On their blog post, Whisper Systems announced their collaboration, as they said, “They (Facebook) use our open source Signal Protocol libraries, and we’ve verified that the integration was done appropriately”
Facebook has already published a technical white paper, wherein they have described in detail about this encryption protocol for end to end privacy.
Other Messaging Apps With Encryption
Interestingly, Google’s new messaging app Allo also uses Whisper System’s’ Signal Technology for end to end encryption of messages, which is activated by default, just like WhatsApp.
Besides WhatsApp,Facebook messenger and Allo, some other messaging app which currently employs end to end encryption and guarantees total privacy are: Apple’s iMessage, Viber, Line, Signal (developed by Whisper Systems and favourite of famed whistleblower Edward Snowden), Cyber Dust and Telegram.