Meta Platforms begun to rollout end-to-end encryption (E2EE) as a default feature on Facebook and Messenger, a move which has been in the works for a while and is designed to boost security.
The company explained in a statement it has updated a previous system requiring an opt-in on both platforms, but added it would take a number of months to complete a global deployment.
Encryption adds an extra layer of security for calls and messages as “nobody, including Meta, can see what’s sent or said” unless the interaction is reported.
Loredana Crisan, head of Messenger explained offering default encryption “has taken years to deliver because we’ve taken our time to get it right”.
“Our engineers, cryptographers, designers, policy experts and product managers have worked tirelessly to rebuild Messenger features from the ground up,” she added.
Along with the introduction of default encryption, it has also updated other features, including allowing users to edit messages, upgrades in photo and video sharing and controlling read receipts.
Going forward, Meta Platforms intends to bring E2EE beyond one-on-one messaging and deploy it on group chats and direct messages on Instagram. It is already offered on WhatsApp.
Expanding rollout is however a blow to critics of E2EE, such as the UK government and the country’s law enforcement authorities which argue the feature makes it harder to detect child sexual abuse.
Meta Platforms, among others, have opposed a previous attemps by the government, through its Online Safety Bill, to break E2EE in private messages.
The UK government stated in September 2023 it “supports strong encryption” as a whole.