Facebook Adds Encrypted Calls Option To Messenger

Facebook has rolled out an option for end-to-end encryption to one-on-one voice and video calls in Messenger, the company said.

The company has offered an option to secure one-on-one text chats with end-to-end encryption since 2016, and is now adding the option to audio and video calls.

Facebook and other companies that offer online calls and conferencing – notably Zoom – have seen a surge in usage during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said Messenger is now seeing more than 150 million video calls a day.

Image credit: Facebook

Call surge

“Now… you can secure your audio and video calls with this same technology, if you choose,” Facebook said in a statement.

End-to-end encryption is already widely used on Facebok’s WhatsApp, as well as Zoom, Signal, Apple’s FaceTime and other platforms.

The technology means only those on a call have access to it, with even Facebook unable to decrypt messages.

The company said the technology was “becoming the industry standard”.

Facebook also said it has updated the controls for disappearing messages within end-to-end encrypted chats, allowing those in the chat to choose the amount of time before all new messages disappear, from 5 seconds up to 24 hours.

In the coming weeks the company said it’s planning to test additional messaging features, including adding end-to-end encryption to group chats and calls on Messenger.

Instagram

The feature will be available for friends and family that already have an existing chat thread or are already connected, Facebook said.

New controls are also planned for preventing unwanted interactions, deciding who can reach a user’s chats list and who can’t message a user at all.

Another limited test, which will include adults in certain unnamed countries, is to allow users to opt-in to end-to-end encrypted messages and calls for one-on-one conversations on Instagram.

Similar to the way Messenger currently works, users will need to have an existing chat or be following one another to start an end-to-end encrypted direct message.

Last year a report indicated Facebook may be planning to enable WhatsApp and Messenger users to chat with one another, but so far that feature hasn’t come to light.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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