Facebook Messenger is one of the most widely used chat apps in the world — and according to a report in The Guardian this week, it could soon become much more secure.
The publication reported that Facebook is planning on releasing an “optional encrypted communications mode” for the app. This would mean that both snooping government agencies and Facebook itself would not be able to read the text exchanged between you and your friends. However, this new layer of security won’t automatically turn on for users. Instead, users will need to opt in.
According to The Guardian, this end-to-end encryption will interfere with Facebook’s “machine learning,” including its recent inclusion of bots to Messenger. This machine learning analyzes every user message so that it can identify trends and better tailor communications in the future. In other words, it is not in Facebook’s best interest to voluntarily turn off access to its most valuable asset: your data.
Requiring users to opt-in to a beneficial security feature has caused concern among privacy advocates in the past, and it’s certain to do so again if this function comes to pass.
“I just object to the opt-in default for what could be millions of users as they discuss politics, their love life, health concerns, and other topics meant to be private,” security researcher Kenneth White told The Guardian.
However, even if Messenger’s 900 million users are not automatically opted in to encryption, it’s still an enormously helpful service to provide them. Any way that Facebook users can better protect themselves has to be considered a win.