By: Nick Gambino
Meta, the parent company that now owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has an encryption problem. WhatsApp has had end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for years, but Messenger and Instagram have fallen behind on plans to add the privacy feature.
While voice and video calls are already encrypted on Messenger, messages and media are not. And because Messenger and Instagram merged chats in 2020 to create a more unified experience across platforms, Instagram also has some form of E2EE but is far from fully encrypted. When it comes to full encryption, they’ve been “working on it” with plans to add it as early as 2022.
Now, per a report from The Guardian, they won’t be fully encrypting Messenger or Instagram until 2023.
“We’re taking our time to get this right and we don’t plan to finish the global rollout of end-to-end encryption by default across all our messaging services until sometime in 2023,” Antigone Davis, Head of Safety for Meta, said in the Sunday Telegraph. “As a company that connects billions of people around the world and has built industry-leading technology, we’re determined to protect people’s private communications and keep people safe online.”
Note the specific use of the word “default.” Facebook Messenger and Instagram do have E2EE capabilities, but they’re just not turned on by default. This is something they might want to inform the general public about more broadly.
If you want to turn on E2EE on Facebook Messenger, here’s what you need to do. Fire up the app and tap on a user’s name that you want to have an encrypted conversation with. Scroll down and tap on “Go to secret conversation.” Now that specific chat is secured with end-to-end encryption on the sending and receiving devices. If you log into another device, you won’t see that secret conversation.
If you want to turn on E2EE on Instagram DMs here’s what you need to do, though I can’t for the life of me seem to get it to work. Fire up the Instagram app and navigate to your DMs. Tap the “create a new message icon” in the top right (it looks like a pencil and paper). Next tap the padlock symbol to start an encrypted chat and select the person you want to chat with.
Hopefully, pressure will force Meta to roll out default E2EE sooner than 2023.