Warning: this Facebook message will self-destruct in 5 minutes.
Self-destructing text messages will soon be a reality for people who use the Facebook Messenger app on their smartphones. In the coming months, Facebook will be offering a “Secret Conversation” option on Facebook Messenger that will give users end-to-end encryption as well as the ability to send self-destructing text messages to other users.
However, these improved security and privacy features will not be automatic. People will have to opt-in by selecting the “Secret Conversation” feature before they start a chat session with someone in order to get the end-to-end encryption and the self-destruct message option. The improved encryption and self-destructing messages will not be automatically applied to all text messages sent through Facebook Messenger.
Self-destructing text messages will automatically delete after a period of time that is chosen by the message sender.
The end-to-end encryption option will allow users to send messages that can only be read on the two mobile devices that are being used by the message sender and message receiver. Even Facebook and law enforcement agencies will not have access to the contents of messages sent using end-to-end encryption on Facebook Messenger.
Facebook has been criticized by privacy advocates for making their end-to-end encryption an opt-in selection for users and not making it automatic for all messages that are sent through Facebook Messenger.
Other messaging apps, like Facebook-owned WhatsApp, already offer a higher level of privacy protection through full encryption for all users. WhatsApp currently provides automatic end-to-end encryption on all of the messages sent by their users.
Facebook has already started testing their “Secret Conversation” tool on a small group of users. The company plans to roll out Secret Conversations to all Facebook Messenger users in the coming months.
When the “Secret Conversation” option is available to you, you will see it when you go to start a chat session with another person in Facebook Messenger. If you click on “Secret Conversation,” you will be given the opportunity to set a self-destruct time on your messages and your chat session should now show as being secure.
Facebook launched their Messenger app back in 2011. It is estimated that around half of all U.S. smartphone owners use Facebook Messenger on their mobile devices. Facebook Messenger currently has over 900 million regular users.
There are currently almost 1.7 billion people who use the Facebook social network, which puts Facebook Messenger in the running to become the world’s most popular and private messaging service in the future. Maybe someday Facebook Messenger will be a go-to app for international spies and people with Jason Bourne type personalities.