The Facebook Messenger app is testing an encrypted messages feature that users may love, but those in power may not be too thrilled by.
The feature would ensure that the encrypted messages can only be seen by the sender and the recipient, according to Bustle.
The Facebook Messenger App would restrict each person to one device for each message, and the end-to-end encryption would only work for the iOS and Android apps, not the web or desktop versions of Messenger. Some of the more visual aspects of Messenger wouldn’t be available with the encrypted feature, either, as Facebook noted in their official announcement.
“Secret conversations can only be read on one device and we recognize that experience may not be right for everyone. It’s also important to note that in secret conversations we don’t currently support rich content like GIFs and videos, making payments, or other popular Messenger features.”
The encrypted messages would be inaccessible to anyone at Facebook or even members of law enforcement.
Users may even be allowed to set a timer for a message so that it eventually disappears after being sent.
This new feature is available to users on a “limited basis” at the moment, which Facebook is using to gather data about the feature’s performance and what users think of it. They plan to roll it out to more users before the end of the summer.
The Facebook Messenger app isn’t the first to introduce end-to-end encryption by a long shot, according to TechWorm. WhatsApp, also owned by the social media giant, introduced it for all methods of communication on that platform — videos, photos, calls, and texts.
Apple’s iMessage is secure unless users upload their content to the cloud storage platform, iCloud. Anything in iCloud is essentially free game for Apple to access if they need to. Allo, Viber, and Line are some more of popular messaging platforms that incorporate encryption for their users.
Facebook is determined to make their Messenger app everyone’s go-to platform for communication, and encryption is just another step towards that goal.
The first step was removing the mobile browser Messenger option; instead of having the choice to chat through the website on a browser, downloading the Messenger app became a requirement to chat with Facebook friends.
The app also integrated SMS for Android users in June, as the Daily Dot reported. If users choose to opt in, the feature allows them to send and receive texts using the Messenger app as the default. The feature was originally introduced in 2012, but they removed it for some reason that blogs can only speculate on.
For users with privacy concerns, however, Facebook claims that text messages won’t be stored on their servers the way Facebook messages are. Text messages will still be controlled by cellular carriers, even if users opt in to the SMS integration with Messenger.
Facebook is also using their Messenger app to help streamline users’ daily lives, according to App Advice. Bots like Dinner Ideas allows users to type in an ingredient or dish they’re considering for dinner. Responses pull information from sources across the internet, like Food Network, and send the user ideas.
In fact, bots are practically taking over the Facebook Messenger app. The Verge reports that there are more than 11,000 active bots on the app now. Earlier this year, Facebook created a platform that allows developers to build bots that allow for more direct contact between business and users.
Users complained about bots when they were first introduced, especially frustrated over communication issues when a bot didn’t understand a query. However, as developers become more enthusiastic with bots, Facebook has been rolling out improvements. One way of improving the communication issue mentioned above was to add a menu of commands so users don’t have to commit them to memory while interacting with a bot.
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