Social network giant Facebook does more than just connect people with their social network, and their Facebook Messenger chat function ensures that you get the message across instantly without missing a beat. It does not matter whether you are chatting with that particular person on a smartphone, tablet or computer, Facebook Messenger will still work across numerous operating systems and platforms. How about making sure that your chats are more secure? Facebook has done just that, as they are currently testing out secret, encrypted, self-destructing Messenger chats.
In other words, should this latest function be given the green light, one will be able to enjoy additional security in Facebook Messenger without having to make the jump over to a security-oriented service like Telegram. It is about time that Facebook took such a route, too, as we have seen Facebook's subsidiary, WhatsApp, deliver encrypted conversations with one of their more recent app updates.
Known as "secret conversations" for the moment, this is currently available as an option only for a small subset of users. Such "secret conversations" are end-to-end encrypted, which theoretically speaking, means that even Facebook are unable to read what you are sending over to your mate or family.
In order to up the ante in the form of an extra layer of protection, a message that is sent in such a manner can only be read on one of the devices that belongs to the intended recipient. One will also be able to have a little peek into the fictional world of Mission Impossible by setting a timer that ensures that the message self-destructs after a certain amount of time.
Facebook intends to carry this out with the use of open-source Signal Protocol. Signal Protocol was developed by Open Whisper Systems, having received endorsement by the likes of Edward Snowden in the past. The uses for encryption of such messages are many, especially when you would like to discuss something that is sensitive or private with another person, such as a medical condition, or perhaps to send over your banking password or financial details to an accountant.
Do take note that a fair number of Facebook Messenger's' features will not obtain encryption support, and these will comprise of rich content sharing such as GIFs and videos. Apart from that, one will need to select the encryption option on purpose since it is not turned on by default.
Do expect Facebook to make available the "secret conversations" option available across a wider user base later this summer as the company begins collecting feedback from those who have already given it a go.
Facebook mentioned, "During this test, we will gather feedback about the functionality, measure performance and introduce tools to enable you to report objectionable content to us. We are putting a lot of thought into the design and implementation of this feature, and we are grateful to the security and privacy experts who have given us their valuable input."
The authorities who are monitoring various aspects of social media for unwanted elements such as terrorism might want to take note that their job will get harder in the future when such encryption kicks in, not to mention self-destructing messages that does away with the evidence in time.