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The partnership with Open Whisper Systems is a natural progression for Facebook — Whats App, a chat platform owned by Facebook, also uses the Signal Protocol for encrypted messaging.
Secret conversations are slated to become available to all Messenger users over the course of the summer, with access expanding to all by early September.
If you’re part of Facebook’s test group, you’ll see an option called “Secret Conversation.” Once you click it, a new conversation thread opens, with a notice at the top informing you that the chat is end-to-end encrypted.
The timer feature that allows messages to be erased after a certain time period has elapsed is located right next to the text field.
Facebook’s vice president of messaging products David Marcus told Tech Crunch that the addition of end-to-end encryption is intended to help Messenger become everyone’s go-to app.“These essentially are new types of conversations that we’re building, so a lot of the messaging architecture that we originally built that would automatically fan out your messages to lots of different devices, we had to work around so that we could enable this new device-to-device kind of communication,” Leach said.“Also we’re used to relying on our servers to act as backups for all your messaging.“Typically when companies try to build their own security and encryption end of things, they’ll find problems sooner rather than later,” Tony Leach, a product manager on Messenger, told Tech Crunch.“The Signal Protocol has evolved to be the best-in-class method of encrypting asynchronous messages between people, and so we wanted to follow what we see as the industry standard in helping protect people’s conversations.” For Open Whisper Systems, making end-to-end encryption easily available to large companies that don’t specialize in cryptography has always been the goal.