Facebook introduced email encryption back in June as a way of protecting users from getting their emails from the site hacked. The social media giant strengthened that protection this week, adding support from encrypted email provider ProtonMail.
Encryption is complicated, but the gist of it goes like this: Facebook now allows technologically-inclined users to upload a key that allows all emails sent to them from Facebook to be encrypted. That means hackers, your email service provider or any other unwanted prying eyes can’t access things like your notifications or password reset requests.
“If we truly want to have a more private and secure Internet, working together will be crucial and we applaud Facebook for sticking with open standards,” a spokesperson for ProtonMail said.
This extra step of user protection is as notable for what it isn’t as for what it is. Facebook must know that this move won’t gain much recognition, and the vast, vast majority of people won’t even know it exists.
“We’ve previously focused on securing people’s direct connection to Facebook with things such as HTTPS and a TOR onion site,” Melanie Ensign, a spokesperson for Facebook, told VICE publication Motherboard. “Now, we’re giving people more control and options for protecting the email communications they receive from Facebook.”
Although it’s well above typical users, this tool is still a good thing, and it’s a good thing that Facebook is giving people more options to protect themselves.