Facebook Messenger adds safety alerts as it moves towards end-to-end encryption

Facebook Messenger iMessage Alternative
Facebook Messenger iMessage Alternative (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Facebook is making Messenger more secure with safety alerts.
  • It'll also alert minors when talking to strangers who are over-18, as well as automatically ban adults who have inappropriate conversations with children.
  • The company confirms that these safety features would work with full encryption when it rolls that out later.

Facebook is rolling out safety alerts fo Messenger on both iOS and Android going forward.

"As we move to end-to-end encryption, we are investing in privacy-preserving tools like this to keep people safe without accessing message content," Facebook's Jay Sullivan, Director of Product Management, Messenger Privacy and Safety said, "We developed these safety tips with machine learning that looks at behavioral signals like an adult sending a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18. This ensures that the new features will be available and effective when Messenger is end-to-end encrypted."

Most particularly, Facebook has addressed three particular pain points.

The first of which is adding new safety notices when something doesn't seem right. For instance, if you're messaging someone new and they ask for money, Facebook will ask you to double-check and give you a few tips on what to do.

Nrp Msgr Safetytips B

Source: Facebook (Image credit: Source: Facebook)

Next, Facebook will now alert users under 18 when interacting with adults who they aren't always already friends with. The company will also use machine learning to automatically disable accounts that engage in inappropriate conversations with children.

"These features show a great integration of the technical tools that will help curb bad behavior on the platform, while also reminding people of their own control over their account," said Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute. "It's important to use language that empowers people to make wise decisions and think more critically about who they're interacting with online. We're especially glad to see this reflected in the thoughtful approach around safety considerations for younger users."

Finally, Facebook will alert you about common scams and imposters. If you're messaging someone with a name similar to that of a friend you have, Facebook will point that out. It's a common scam tactic, and it's possible for users to get confused if they aren't paying attention.

All these features are meant to work with full end-to-end encryption, and Facebook is keen to point that out. Facebook is said to be merging WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram Direct together. With end-to-end encryption now a default on WhatsApp, bringing it to Messenger moves the unification of all Facebook's messaging apps one step closer.

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Michael Allison