Over the next few months, Meta will gradually expand end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to everyone messenger users to ensure a high level of security in all areas.
Gradually is the key word here as Meta states that it will pick at random Which chats get E2EE and which don’t. Upon selection, each person in the selected chat will be notified if their app now has this extra layer of protection. The reason behind the random selection process is to facilitate both the users and the infrastructure of the company so as not to overwhelm either of them. Ideally, subtraction will be smoother when done little by little rather than all at once. In addition, Meta will test whether E2EE will be a default setting for Messenger during this period. So, if you are one of the lucky few who are picked first, make sure you install the update as soon as possible for optimum security.
It’s worth noting that in 2021, Meta said it has plans to release a full version of E2EE for both Messenger and Instagram in 2023. The latter’s end-to-end encryption is available in certain regions with an official launch presumably still in the works. Instagram’s E2EE feature was in the testing phase as of August 2022. Not much is known, but Meta mentioned in this latest announcement that it will provide updates “over the course of 2023.”
What’s old is new now
In addition to the expansion, E2EE-enabled Messenger chats will get six new features that enhance security and personalization; Although it’s not something we haven’t seen before.
You have things like link previews so you know where you’re going when you select a hyperlink and the ability to adjust your active status for more privacy. Moving further down the list, chat themes are now available so you can ditch the plain white background as well as custom emoji reactions, group profile pictures, and bubble notifications to pop up when using other apps (though only on Android).
Meta seems to be bridging the gap between the unencrypted version of Messenger and the new version that supports E2EE. Perhaps the company is setting things up to eventually abandon the unencrypted app as part of a long-term plan, but it’s still too early to tell if that’s the case.
We asked Meta if the six features will launch today to all E2EE Messenger users or if they will coincide with the previously mentioned gradual rollout. We’ve also requested an update regarding Instagram encryption since there hasn’t been any news regarding E2EE on the app in the past several months. This story will be updated if we hear back.
If you are interested in other messaging apps with E2EE and don’t want to wait for Messenger, be sure to check it out TechRadar’s updated list of the best. Of course, you have Meta’s WhatsApp, which has been encrypted for years. You also have Telegram and Threema.