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Facebook adds encrypted voice and video calls to Messenger

Facebook is adding encrypted messages to voice and video calls in Messenger, the company has announced, and is currently testing the same encryption for Instagram DMs.

Facebook has offered the option for secure texts over Facebook Messenger since 2016 – although not by default, as users have had to choose the ‘Secret Conversation’ option in the app’s menu. That’s where these new encrypted video and voice calls will be too, with encryption for group chats and calls coming soon.

End to end encryption is already used by other apps such as WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook, but not in every instance. If an Android user backs up their conversation to Google Drive, in order to transfer it to another device, that end-to-end encryption will not be applied.

This now puts Facebook’s video calling service on Messenger on par with Zoom, Signal, and FaceTime – all of which also offer end-to-end video calling and which Facebook describes as “becoming the industry standard”.

In addition to this update, Facebook is also adding more controls over its expiring messages feature. Users can now select when a message will become unavailable, from between five minutes to 24 hours.

Instagram’s encrypted direct messages, meanwhile, are currently being tested for adults in certain countries, letting them opt-in for greater security. “Similar to how Messenger works today, you need to have an existing chat or be following each other to start an end-to-end encrypted DM”, Ruth Kricheli, Facebook’s Director of Product Management for Messenger, wrote in the blog post.

Facebook has long discussed encrypting all of its messaging services, which could allow Facebook users to message WhatsApp and Instagram users directly through the app. While this would make the social network’s apps more secure, it would also make the company harder to break up in the face of anticompetitive legislation.

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