Facebook’s latest technological update is an extra level of security for their Messenger app. They’re rolling out end-to-end encryption, as well as the ability to send messages which will automatically be deleted after a set time frame. While these features aren’t available to every user at the moment, they should be by September.
The feature won’t be turned on by default, as the encrypted mode doesn’t allow for features such as payment, GIFs, or video. Besides this, many users may consider encryption to be unnecessary for casual everyday conversations. It’s also only available for the mobile Messenger app, at least for now.
When explaining their decision to make the feature optional rather than default, Facebook vice president David Marcus stated, “It’s that extra layer that you’ll want for those special conversations where you send a Social Security number, a username or password, checking account information for a payment, medical data of some kind. For those types of things, you want to have a little bit more peace of mind. We feel like the approach for us, given how people use our product, is really the right one and the security experts out there have been very supportive of the approach we’ve taken.”
The technology they used is based on the Signal Protocol, which was developed by Open Whisper Systems. This decision was made based on the fact that building a new security system from scratch would result in more initial issues, while the free and open-source Signal Protocol has already established itself as a leader in cryptography.