Meta is working on providing end-to-end encryption across all of its messaging apps. Since last year, the company has been testing end-to-end encryption for group chats, including voice and video calls. Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that all Messenger users will now be able to implement encryption in all group chats in the app.
This step towards improved security and privacy on Messenger is part of Meta’s broader plan of cross-communication among its messaging apps WhatsApp, Messenger and IG Direct. The inboxes in each app will be synchronized and the same data protections will be applied to each.
While Meta is ensuring better security with these updates, it is also a concern among people as the approach may be against law enforcement policies that are responsible for tracking potential criminal activity. Increased security in the form of encryption limits the capacity to track perpetrators of crimes, hence becoming a hinderance in investigative processes. Nevertheless, Meta persistently believes in providing more freedom to users in terms of choosing whom they share their data with and to what extent.
Moreover, the extended integration by Meta would also make it more difficult to split Meta in case any of its apps are involved in violation of antitrust law.
As part of increased security, Messenger is also updated with a new notification option that notifies the user when someone in their inbox takes a screenshot of a disappearing message. In addition to this, GIFs, Reactions, and Stickers are also being added to end-to-end encrypted chats. There will also be an option to forward a message from an encrypted chat stream.
There would remain a debate over whether it is more important to reduce chances of criminal activity to occur in these hidden networks or more important to keep user conversations safe. Perhaps there is no one right answer for this. Regardless, Meta is pushing ahead with its plan, whether for its own benefit or for the larger benefit of the society.