Facebook has begun testing on an end-to-end encryption option on its standalone Messenger app, with an option the company is calling 'Secret Conversations' that will provide additional security safeguard.
The feature is in response to user demand for encrypted chat, which was added to Facebook-owned Whatsapp as a standard feature for all conversations back in April. Unlike WhatsApp, the Facebook version will only work with one-to-one conversations, not groups, and will also limit the conversation to one device for each user, as an additional security guarantee.
The Secret Conversation option will also enable users to write self-erasing messages that disappear after a certain time, with users able to dictate how long they remain visible for.
The Secret Conversation option is in beta testing, and currently doesn't support rich content such as GIFs or videos, or things like the ability to make payments (or presumably Facebook's growing legion of chatbots). However, the company has announced plans to make the function more widely available by the end of the summer.
"Your messages and calls on Messenger already benefit from strong security systems – Messenger uses secure communications channels (just like banking and shopping websites) as well as Facebook's powerful tools to help block spam and malware," said a Facebook spokesperson in a post announcing the feature. "We've heard from you that there are times when you want additional safeguards – perhaps when discussing private information like an illness or a health issue with trusted friends and family, or sending financial information to an accountant."
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