Sunday, February 25, 2024

Messenger’s encrypted chats pick up user-friendly features


Facebook Messenger’s end-to-end encrypted mode, Secret Conversations, is getting a substantial update today. The company is including several new features that would make the mode attractive to use and bring it on par with regular messages, including typing indicators in chats, reactions, and GIF support.

Secret Conversations debuted a few years ago on Messenger, but it was fairly bare-bones, offering just one-on-one messaging support. The feature picked up support for end-to-end encrypted group chats and calls in summer 2021, and today’s update enables almost everything you want from the regular Messenger app. This includes emoji reactions, typing indicators, GIFs and stickers, forwarding, and the ability to directly reply to messages. There are also media-related features that include the ability to save media and edit video or photos before sending. Messenger will also let you know when someone screenshots your conversation. Secret Conversations are meant to be secret after all, but no amount of encryption thwarts a simple PNG screenshot by the other party.


End-to-end encrypted chats are, as the name implies, more secure than unencrypted chats and are used as a selling point for smaller messaging services including Signal and Telegram. The other Meta-owned messaging service, WhatsApp, also has its app encrypted (albeit by default). With the company moving to merge both services, at least on the back-end, having Messenger’s Secret Conversations reach parity with WhatsApp’s default experience is a necessary step. “We want to make Messenger interoperable with WhatsApp, so that you could send messages back and forth again, just like connecting email and different email accounts,” Meta’s Loredana Crisan said in 2021.

With this update, Messenger just got that much closer to being an app you can rely on for regular, secure conversations.

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