Meta brings default end-to-end encryption, new features to Messenger

Messenger E2EE
(Image credit: Meta)

What you need to know

  • End-to-end encryption has been an optional setting in Meta's Messenger since 2016, but it will now be enabled by default.
  • Meta is also adding new features to messages themselves, like message editing, disappearing messages, read receipts control, updated media selection and sharing, and playback speeds for voice messages.
  • End-to-end encryption will begin rolling out to day, but Meta says it will take a "number of months" for the global rollout to complete. 

Meta will upgrade Messenger to be completely end-to-end encrypted by default and is also adding new messaging features, the company announced on Wednesday. Previously, end-to-end encryption (E2EE) was an optional setting that users could enable for better privacy and security. Now, more than a billion Messenger users will get E2E by default. 

The company says that default E2EE for chats and calls is rolling out now but will take "a number of months" to reach all users. When a Messenger user is upgraded to E2EE chats, they will be asked to create a recovery method for their account, such as a PIN. This is so that if their phone is lost or inaccessible, users will still have access to their messages. 

E2EE chats will be secured with the renowned Signal Protocol and Meta's in-house Labyrinth Protocol. Alongside the announcement, the company published two technical papers outlining its approach to E2EE for Messenger. 

Meta says that E2EE will be the default on personal, one-to-one chats in the Messenger app. However, it is working on bringing the secure protocols to group messaging and Instagram DMs in the future. 

Other new features coming to Messenger

Aside from E2EE, Meta is also adding a few features to chats, which the company says will be available immediately. You'll now be able to edit Messenger chats up to 15 minutes after they've been sent, and Meta keeps a copy of the original message. It looks like the other person won't be able to see earlier versions of the message, but Meta can review it in response to reports. 

Additionally, disappearing messages will stay put for 24 hours. However, they're only available for E2EE chats. Meta says that it's also updating the user interface for disappearing messages so users can be sure their chats will be gone in a day. 

Additionally, Meta is letting users decide whether read receipts are turned on or off for chats.

Voice messaging is apparently the "fastest growing messaging format today," and you won't have to spend so much time listening to them in Messenger now. You can pick 1.5x or 2x playback speeds for faster listening, and voice messages will continue to play in the background when users leave the Messenger app. This functionality matches the features we've seen from other message clients, like iMessage. 

Finally, Meta is working on making photos and videos appear in higher quality over Messenger chats. There's also a new way to pick images, and you can now reply or react to any image or video in a gallery. 

Everything except E2EE should be rolling out to Messenger users immediately, so check your Messenger app if you want to try any of these new features.

Brady Snyder

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.