Privacy has never been Facebook’s strong suit, but the company is making strides to improve on that with their latest feature in Messenger. You’ll soon be able to talk about sensitive topics with friends and family on Facebook Messenger with extra peace of mind thanks to heavily encrypted conversations.
Facebook is calling this the ability to have “secret” conversations, which are one-on-one chats with end-to-end encryption. That means only you and the other person will ever have access to your messages, so not even Facebook will see any of it. You’ll also have the option to control how long the recipient will be able to see your messages, marking a Snapchat-esque approach to talking to your buddies.
There are a few catches to these secret conversations, however. They aren’t enabled by default, and Facebook’s approach only allows you to view conversations on one device, so you can’t start a chat on your phone then pick it up on your tablet. You’ll have to manage two separate conversations to make that happen.
The secret chats also don’t support rich content like stickers and GIFs, which really relegates these conversations to something that you’ll only do occasionally, not a permanent approach.
If you’re interested in the technical side of the things, Facebook is using the Signal protocol that was developed by Open Whisper Systems, marking a pretty similar approach that was used by Facebook-owned WhatsApp.
Facebook still probably isn’t your best choice if you’re looking for a messaging or social platform that genuinely cares about your privacy, but moves like this make it much more tolerable.