When Facebook announced a way for people to access the site on Tor last year, it was clear the site wanted to court users who both wished to use the site and remain anonymous. Facebook added another feature this week to help these users: OpenPGP (or “Pretty Good Privacy”) encryption for emails sent by the company.
That means Facebook can scramble communications it sends so that only you can read them. However, the tool has its limits; any message you send to another user on Facebook will remain unencrypted. While only safeguarding emails sent to you from Facebook seems like small potatoes, it could have a potentially big impact. For instance, a hacker that broke into your email could previously reset your password by sending a link. Now, however, the encryption would prevent them from doing so.
Even though the amount of individual users that implement the tool could be small, experts believe it could go a long way toward protecting groups with security concerns, such as political candidates.
“Facebook, even if it’s not going to be an organization platform, will always be an outreach platform,” security researcher Eleanor Saitta told Wired. “It will be a place where people go to do political work, and letting people secure the accounts they use to do that political work is really important.”
No matter what, it’s a good thing that Facebook is getting serious about protecting users from potential outside threats.