On Thursday, Facebook announced that it will begin testing end-to-end encryption as the default option for some users of its Messenger app on Android and iOS. Facebook currently offers Messenger users the option to turn on end-to-end encryption on a per-chat basis, but such opt-in schemes are generally only embraced by a security-conscious minority. Making end-to-end encryption the default will be a big step: adding a substantial layer of security to a chat platform used by more than a billion people worldwide.
Facebook is Testing the New End-to-End Encryption with a Couple of Hundred Users
Moreover, Facebook spokesperson Alex Dziedzan said on Thursday that end-to-end encryption is a complex feature to implement and that the test is limited to a couple of hundred users for now so that the company can ensure the system is working properly. Dziedzan also said the move was “not a response to any law enforcement requests”.
In recent years, Facebook parent Meta has been slowly adding more layers of end-to-end encryption to its various chat platforms, but these efforts have not yet been unified. Chats on WhatsApp are end-to-end encryption by default using the same protocol offered by industry-standard secure messenger Signal; opt-in encryption for Instagram DMs is currently being tested, and Messenger offers E2EE via its “disappearing messages” feature.
Facebook is Also Testing the Secure Storage Feature to Encrypt Cloud Backups
In addition to the new test of default E2EE, the company also announced a feature named “secure storage” that will encrypt cloud backups of users’ chat history on Messenger. “We’re testing secure storage to back up those messages in case you lose your phone or want to restore your message history on a new, supported device,” said the company. “As with end-to-end encrypted chats, secure storage means that we won’t have access to your messages unless you choose to report them to us.”