Meta has announced an update for end-to-end encrypted chats on Facebook Messenger. Default end-to-end encryption won’t arrive on Messenger until sometime in 2023, but you can opt-in now and take advantage of additional features.

The most notable development is the addition of a control on its disappearing messages that notifies you if your chat partner takes a screenshot of your conversation. Here’s what you need to know.

Messenger now has full end-to-end encryption (E2EE)

Meta’s journey to encrypting our chats on Messenger has been a bit circuitous. It all started when Meta (then Facebook) introduced Secret Conversations to Messenger in 2016.

Previously, Facebook Messenger allowed you to start a conversation on one device and continue the conversation on another. Third parties such as government agencies, cyber criminals and even employees of Meta could easily access your chats as they were not encrypted.

Secret conversations on Messenger transform your chats by restricting them to the device you started them on and encrypting conversations end-to-end. Security was further beefed up when Messenger introduced Vanish Mode in November 2020, which allowed your messages to disappear after a while and notified you when someone took a screenshot of said messages.

Although E2EE has been available on Meta’s services for some time, it is being slowly rolled out due to law enforcement concerns that E2EE will give criminals an unfair advantage. So, Meta cautiously began testing the feature with users who already had an existing chat thread and were connected, rather than everyone in the world.

However, Meta has announced that E2EE is rolling out to all 900 million Messenger users globally, but with a caveat; E2EE is not available by default. You have to turn it on every time you send a message. This is out of respect for law enforcement, with whom they are still working.

Meta expects default encryption on Messenger to be implemented globally by 2023, when Instagram and Messenger are likely to merge as well.

How to Enable Screenshot Notifications on Messenger

Because Messenger’s end-to-end encryption isn’t turned on by default, you’ll need to enable secret conversations with each Messenger contact. Both the parties must have the latest version of the app. If either party does not do so, they will need to update the app before the feature will work on their end.

Open the Messenger app. Tap the pencil icon which you will find in the top-right corner. This will enable you to compose a message.

Select the person or group you want to chat with.

Toggle off the padlock icon (Android) or incognito text (iOS) at the top-right corner (this puts your chat in incognito conversation mode). If you reverse this action, you go back to non-incognito mode.

In Secret Conversation mode, Messenger shows you a timer icon next to the chatbox. Tap on it and choose your preferred timer option (from five seconds to one day). This will decide how long your message will last after your chat partner has read it.

Once you do the above, Messenger will let you know right away if your chat partner takes a screenshot of your secret conversation before the message disappears.

Other Messenger updates

In addition to the opt-in end-to-end encryption feature, encrypted voice and video calls are also now available to all. Users can also reply to specific messages in their end-to-end encrypted chats, either by long-pressing or swiping to reply. Plus, typing indicators have been added, so you can now see when others are typing.

Meta has also added verified badges to help identify authentic accounts and drive meaningful conversations.

The new Save Media feature will let you save videos or images by long-pressing on any media you receive. And finally, the video editing feature will enable you to edit a photo or video from your gallery before sending it, which means you can add stickers, text or crop, and edit audio (for videos).

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