Meta said today it is expanding its end-to-end encryption test to individual Messenger chats. The social media giant said that starting this week, people included in the test will have their most frequent chats automatically protected by end-to-end encryption.
The tech giant’s announcement comes days after it was involved in a Nebraska case of a teen facing abortion charges, where the company turned over her private Facebook Messages to cops. Notably, if these messages were protected by end-to-end encryption, Meta wouldn’t have been able to hand over these details.
Meta first tested end-to-end encryption features for Messenger back in 2016 for “secret conversations.” Later it extended that protection to voice and video calls in 2021. In January, the company introduced opt-in end-to-end encryption for group chats and calls for Messenger. But unlike Meta’s other popular chat app WhatsApp, end-to-end encryption is not yet enabled by default for all conversations.
The company is also testing the “secure storage” option for end-to-end encrypted conversations for iOS and Android. Users will be able to upload their Messenger backup keys on third-party cloud services like iCloud or Google Drive by protecting them with a PIN or a code. The company said that the backup will remain on Meta servers.
Secure Storage currently protects only end-to-end chats — like group conversations — on iOS and Android, and is not applicable to non-encrypted chat and Messenger for web and desktop.
After years of criticism, WhatsApp finally started offering encrypted backup to its 2 billion-plus users last year. While the chat app always offered end-to-end encryption protection for chats, its backups were not protected, giving potential access to all the data to law enforcement.
Meta also mentioned that it’s soon planning to expand its end-to-end encryption test for Instagram DMs. Last year, Instagram started testing end-to-end encrypted messages through an opt-in setting. In February, the company initially introduced the feature for all users in Ukraine and Russia.
In another experiment, the social media giant will let users soon unsend encrypted messages and will sync deleted messages across devices.
Last year, Meta said that it expects to roll out default end-to-end encryption protection across all its apps by 2023.
Updated the post with clarification from Meta about group call and chat, and backup keys.