How to encrypt Messenger conversations
28 Dec 2016 | Jindřich Zechmeister
The security level of online conversations has been increased once again – with a new feature for the world’s most popular communicator, the Facebook Messenger App. Now, all users can send secret messages and in this article we will show you how to use them. The messages are encrypted between the recipients and a deadline can be set up after which the complete conversation will be deleted.
Secret and temporary messages are finally supported
Facebook has extended their messenger by a much demanded feature that encrypts the conversations between mobile phones. The feature had already been tested in summer, but was only unlocked for all users in autumn. We are mentioning mobile phones because for now, the feature is only available for Android and iOS, and not for desktop.
Secret even for Facebook itself
When the encryption is enabled, all messages between the two subjects are encoded by a mutual device key. This type of encryption is called end-to-end because it is carried out only between the two communicating sides, which means that not even Facebook is able to read the messages!
How to – Android Smartphones
Let’s have a look at Android in the first part of our instructions. In order to start a secret conversation, you need to first send your chosen contact a conventional, non-encrypted message.
After the unencrypted initiation of the conversation, you can now encrypt the chat. In the open chat, click on the info symbol in the right upper corner and choose the option Secret Conversation: (The feature Secret Conversation in the message details).
This will create a new chat thread, which is encrypted between the two mobile phones. So, the conversation needs to be initiated first, and can only then be switched to the encrypted mode. The secret conversation is marked in black font, replacing the usual blue font, and with a black padlock in the photo of your conversational partner.
In the chat list, the secret conversation can again be recognised by the black padlock icon.
In order to again send an unencrypted message, you need to go back to the non-encoded chat thread.
How to – iPhones
For iPhones, the steps are slightly different: at first, you need to activate the secret message feature by tapping the Me tab and sliding the Secret Conversations switch to ON
On the homepage, click the new message icon in the right upper corner and then choose Secret:
Now choose the person you would like to message and the encrypted conversation can be initiated.
Creating a temporary secret messageThe app allows to set up a certain time period, for which the message will be valid. After the set date, the conversation will be deleted. The validity period can be set by clicking on the watch symbol (stopwatch) in the message field:
Encrypt, if the app allows you to
The only disadvantage of the new feature is, that the chats are only saved in the two communicating mobile phones, which means, the chat history can neither be fund in your Facebook account from your PC, nor from a different phone. This however, is its intended purpose.
Other popular apps are being upgraded by new encrypting features to increase the user’s security. The new messenger feature is certainly recommendable since conversations can only be decrypted with a key by the participants. You never know, who will hack into a non-encrypted conversation – even after the conversation was already closed.
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