Experts Warn That Facebook’s New Video Chat Feature Isn’t Actually That Private

As the coronavirus has forced most people into lengthy stays at home, video chat technology has experienced a huge surge in popularity. Of course, Facebook is trying to capitalize on this boom by creating a Zoom-like tool called Messenger Rooms. However, experts are already warning that privacy-concerned users should be wary of the feature.

First off, the tool does not feature end-to-end encryption. (Facebook says it’s “too difficult” to manage for these calls, but Apple’s similar FaceTime tool is end-to-end encrypted.) Without that safeguard, all video chats in Messenger Rooms must pass through Facebook’s servers. That means the social media giant technically has access to all of this content — and it could even hand it over to law enforcement. The tool also doesn’t allow for password-protected chats, and Facebook readily admitted that it will collect its usual trove of data from users who take advantage of Rooms. All of that means that users shouldn’t trust the chat tool any more than they trust Facebook itself.

“Privacy settings on Facebook don’t protect data from Facebook, or its partners’ exploitation of the data,” privacy expert Rowenna Fielding told Forbes. “Data mining and profiling are the core of their business model — governance and ethics have been notably absent from the start and continue to be so.”

With so many other viable video chat apps on the market, there’s little reason to use Facebook’s option. After all, why should you give the company any more of your data than you need to?

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