Facebook rolls out secret conversations feature in Messenger

11 Jul 2016

The new Facebook Messenger option is in response to users who may be discussing health or financial information

Facebook has revealed it is rolling out a new one-to-one encrypted option within Messenger that allows users to create one-to-one secret conversations that can only be read on one device belonging to the person you are communicating with.

Not only that, but users can also set a timer to control the length of time the message you send remains visible within the conversation.

Facebook said that the new features began rolling out on Friday and are geared to support conversations around sensitive topics.

‘Secret conversations can only be read on one device and we recognise that experience may not be right for everyone’

It said that Messenger, which is used by around 1bn people worldwide, uses secure communications channels similar to those on banking and e-commerce sites, as well as tools to block spam and malware.

Private means private

Facebook said it is launching the new services in response to users who want additional safeguards if they are discussing private information, such as health information, or sending financial information to an account

Facebook said the Messenger platform uses the Signal Protocol developed by Open Whisper Systems.

“Secret conversations can only be read on one device and we recognise that experience may not be right for everyone,” Facebook explained.

“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 new secret conversations feature is only available on a limited test basis but the option will become more widely available over the summer.

“We are putting a lot of thought into the design and implementation of this feature, and we are grateful to the security and privacy experts who have given us their valuable input,” Facebook said.

Whispering image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years