Facebook Messenger gets fully encrypted voice and video calls

16 Aug 2021

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End-to-end encryption was already offered for text chat on the app, as well as on all messages and calls on WhatsApp.

Facebook Messenger now includes the option for end-to-end encryption on voice and video calls.

The company announced the new feature for the app in a blog post on Friday (13 August). Messenger has offered end-to-end encryption for text chat since 2016, and WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook, already offers the same level of security for messages and calls.

As well as encryption, Facebook also announced that Messenger’s disappearing messages will now feature more options for how long messages persist before being removed.

In the blog post, Ruth Kricheli, director of product management for Messenger, said: “People expect their messaging apps to be secure and private, and with these new features we’re giving them more control over how private they want their calls and chats to be.”

End-to-end encryption means that messages are securely encoded from point of dispatch until they arrive on a recipient’s device, theoretically ensuring that no one, not even service operators like Facebook, can determine the contents even if they intercept the messages in transit.

Kricheli also said that Facebook would begin testing additional new features “in the coming weeks”. One such feature is end-to-end-encryption for group chats and calls in Messenger. Currently, only one-to-one interactions on the app can avail of increased security features.

Additionally, the company will begin “a limited test with adults in certain countries” of full encryption options for Instagram messages. These will work similarly to Messenger, where users will need to already be connected to each other to start a secure chat.

Earlier this month, WhatsApp rolled out disappearing photo and video messages to all users. However, the app is also the subject of major data protection and consumer watchdog investigations in Europe.

In early 2019, Facebook announced its intention to begin integrating messaging across Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. In September 2020, it began testing such integration and said it would expand it globally soon. The integration of Facebook’s three messaging services has the potential to complicate ongoing antitrust proceedings the company faces.

Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin