Messenger is finally adding default end-to-end encryption

It'll only work for one-on-one conversations, though.
By Amanda Yeo  on 
Various smartphones showing Messenger's various new features.
Credit: Meta

Messenger is finally making end-to-end encryption the default setting on all personal messages and calls, along with several other updates. It's good news for anyone concerned about their online privacy — which ideally should be all of us.

Meta revealed the rollout on Wednesday, alongside several other updates to its messaging app. Though the tech giant first introduced end-to-end encryption to Messenger in 2016, it was only an option that users needed to actively opt in to. Tests of default end-to-end encryption were subsequently announced this August, but now it seems Meta is finally ready to launch the security feature for everyone.

"This has taken years to deliver because we’ve taken our time to get this right," Meta's Loredana Crisan wrote in a blog post. "Our engineers, cryptographers, designers, policy experts and product managers have worked tirelessly to rebuild Messenger features from the ground up."

This update means that all one-on-one Messenger conversations will now be entirely private, with nobody other than the intended participants able to see what is being said. The content of your messages will even be kept secret from Meta itself, unless one of the people in the chat chooses to report a message. The encryption will apply to both text conversations and video calls, but chats consisting of more than two people are still unprotected for now.

Not everyone will get the update straight away, with Meta stating that it will take a few months before the global rollout is complete. You'll know that you have it when Messenger prompts you to set up a recovery method such as a PIN number, which will allow you to restore your messages whenever you switch phones.

Meta's ability to access the content of unencrypted Messenger conversations has been cause for concern in the past. Last year, a 17-year-old girl and her mother were charged under Nebraska's anti-abortion laws after the company complied with a request from police to turn over their private messages. The rollout of default end-to-end encryption will no doubt give some Messenger users a little more peace of mind.

Messenger updates will let you edit sent messages

Three smartphones showing the process of editing a Messenger message.
Credit: Meta

Default encryption isn't all that Meta's adding to its messaging app, with Crisan claiming that this is "the biggest set of improvements to Messenger since it was first launched in 2011."

Meta also announced that Messenger users can now edit messages that have already been sent, offering a balm to anyone who has ever been brought low by autocorrect. You only have a 15-minute window to tweak a message after hitting send, and the messages' edit history will still be visible to Meta if someone reports it. Still, this should cut down on how frequently your friends change the name of your group chat to match your latest typo.

Messenger will also let you disable read receipts

Other Messenger updates include the ability to disable read receipts, letting you stop others from seeing when you've read their message, and the ability to play voice messages at up to double the speed, letting you get the tea much more quickly. Messenger will also allow you to resume playing voice notes where you left off, and continue to listen even after leaving the Messenger app.

Messenger's disappearing messages and media sharing also have updates

Three smartphones showing how sharing photos will look in the new upgrade.
Credit: Meta

Disappearing messages now evaporate after 24 hours by default and are getting an improved interface so you can better tell when they're on, though they're still only available in encrypted conversations. 

And finally, media sharing in Messenger will get an upgrade as well, with better image quality, new layouts to choose from, and more options for responding to photos and videos. These particular features are currently being tested among a small group of users, and are expected to roll out more widely in the coming months.

Topics Facebook Meta

Amanda Yeo
Amanda Yeo

Amanda Yeo is Mashable's Australian reporter, covering entertainment, culture, tech, science, and social good. This includes everything from video games and K-pop to movies and gadgets.

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