Messaging apps like Facebook Messenger are constantly playing catch-up, borrowing new features as they steadily evolve in the same direction. This is especially true for companies like Meta, which manages multiple messaging apps. We just saw WhatsApp incorporate Instagram’s emoji replies for messages; now we’re looking at security measures, including WhatsApp-like encrypted backups for Facebook Messenger.
Messenger is exploring a way to back up E2EE talks (hidden from even Meta’s prying eyes) so you can take your chat history with you if you lose or change your device. You can secure them using a PIN, or secret code. This only supports end-to-end encrypted chats and is limited to Messenger’s apps – no web or desktop access.
Previously, Facebook spokesperson Alex Dziedzan said Thursday that E2E encryption is a sophisticated function, thus the test is limited to a few hundred people for now.
Dziedzan claimed the action was “not a law enforcement request.” Meta, Facebook’s parent company, planned the test for months. The business had planned to make E2E encryption default in 2022, but moved the timeframe to 2023.
In June, a Norfolk police detective requested the mother’s “profile contact information, wall postings, and friend listing, with Facebook IDs,” according to an affidavit. Authorities also demanded her April images and private messages.
Facebook gave police private communications between women discussing how to get abortion pills, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. Tech companies may avoid aiding in abortion-related charges by not storing or collecting the data, experts told the Guardian.
Evan Greer, director of the digital rights group Fight for the Future, said Facebook can only safeguard people by denying law enforcement access to user data and chats. Expanding end-to-end encryption by default is part of the solution, but firms like Facebook must stop gathering so much personal data.
The Nebraska case shows that limiting or removing abortion-specific user data to address privacy concerns may not be successful. Facebook said this week that the warrant didn’t mention abortion.
Meta is trying end-to-end encrypted chats by default, rather than asking clients to opt in. If you participate in the trial, your most-used chats will be encrypted automatically. Other tests include E2EE voice calls in Messenger and Ray-Ban Tales.
Code Confirm will help Messenger on desktop. It should help keep bad actors at bay by checking page code in Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
These checks and modifications will roll out over the next few weeks and may expand to more countries.
Facebook will soon enable users unsend encrypted communications and sync deleted texts 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.