How to enable and use Secret Conversations in Facebook Messenger

By , Oct 5, 2016

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Facebook Messenger supports end-to-end encryption, giving you a piece of mind knowing that any sensitive messages with friends and family cannot be deciphered by a third-party. Facebook kicked off a limited trial of this feature in July 2016 before rolling it out to everyone in October 2016. These Secret Conversations, as Facebook is calling encrypted chats, rely on a device key that ensures only you and the recipient can see the message.

You can verify the device key to confirm that the messages are end-to-end encrypted, set a timer to have secret messages disappear from the conversation and so forth.

Here’s how to set up and use Secret Conversations in Facebook Messenger.

Secret Conversations requirements

Secret Conversations are currently available in the Messenger app on iOS and Android.

Secret Conversations do not appear on the Facebook chat at, or They’re also only visible on the device where you create them and the device the recipient uses to open the conversation.

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Before Secret Conversations can be used, you must enable them in Messenger’s settings.

Only one device at a time can send and receive secret messages so if you enable Secret Conversations, say, on your iPhone, any secret messages on your other devices will be closed.

What you can send in Secret Conversations

Encryption imposes certain limitations pertaining to the types of messages you can send or receive in Secret Conversations. You can send the following in a Secret Conversation:

  • Messages
  • Pictures
  • Stickers

Secret conversations don’t support these items:

  • Group messages
  • Animated GIFs
  • Videos
  • Voice or video calling
  • Mobile payments

Follow the instructions below to enable Secret Conversations on your device and learn how to use them, delete all secret chats at once, disable or switch devices used for Secret Conversations and more.

How to enable Secret Conversations

1) Launch Messenger and tap the Me tab at the bottom.

2) Tap Secret Conversations.

3) Slide the Secret Conversations switch to the ON position.

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A prompt says “This will be the only device you can use to send and receive encrypted messages.”

4) Tap Turn On to enable Secret Conversations on this device or Cancel to abort the action.

When you enable Secret Conversations on one device, Messenger will automatically close all secret messages on your other devices.

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If you disable Secret Conversations, your existing secret messages will remain on the device until you delete them, but you’ll no longer be able to send or receive them or start new Secret Conversations.

How to start a Secret Conversation

1) Launch Facebook Messenger on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and tap the Home tab at the bottom.

2) Tap the New Message button to start a conversation, then tap the Secret button in the top right and select who you want to message.

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Tip: You can also tap an existing conversation, then tap the person’s name at the top and select Secret Conversation, as show on the screenshot below.

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3) Type your message, then tap the Send button.

Secret messages are rendered in black bubbles.

A padlock icon along with a message “Encrypted from one device to the other” by a person’s Messenger profile image at the top denotes that you’re engaged in a secret chat with them.

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You may see two different conversations in Messenger if you’re in a secret conversation with someone you already have a conversation with. Keep in mind that the person you’re messaging could still make a screenshot of the conversation and share it with others without your permission.

Creating auto disappearing secret messages

Messenger allows you to set a timer to have your messages disappear from the chat.

1) Launch Messenger and start a new Secret Conversation like your normally would, or tap one of your existing secret chats.

2) Type a message and hit the Timer icon in the text box.

3) Set a timer and choose how long you wish the message to remain visible before it disappears from the conversation, then tap Done.

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4) Tap the Send button to send your auto-disappearing message. A message in red lets you know that your secret message will disappear after the period of time you just selected has passed.

Verifying that your conversations are encrypted

With Secret Conversations, both you and the recipient have a device key which can be optionally used to verify that the messages are indeed end-to-end encrypted.

1) Launch Messenger and tap a Secret Conversation with someone.

2) Tap their name at the top.

3) Tap the Device Keys option and compare it with the other person’s device key. If you can verify that the device keys match, your conversations are encrypted end-to-end.

You don’t have to compare device keys if you don’t want: your secret messages will still be encrypted if you skip this optional verification.

Changing the device used for Secret Conversations

As mentioned, Secret Conversations are only visible on the device where you created them and the device the recipient opens them on. To change the device you use for Secret Conversations, simply start a new Secret Conversation from Messenger on the new device.

When you change the device used for Secret Conversations, your previous secret messages will no longer be visible on your old device or your new device.

Deleting all Secret Conversations from your device

Messenger lets you wipe clean all Secret Conversations on your device at once.

1) Launch Messenger and tap the Me tab at the bottom.

2) Tap Secret Conversations.

3) Tap Delete Secret Conversations.

A prompt goes up warning you that deleting all Secret Conversations will permanently delete the secret message history on this device.

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4) Tap Delete to confirm the operation or Cancel to abort the action.

Reporting and blocking Secret Conversations

Like unencrypted chats, any offending or unwanted secret chat can be reported to Facebook. You can also report auto-disappearing secret chats but only for a short time after they’ve disappeared.

Keep in mind that reporting a Secret Conversation decrypts recent messages from that conversation so that Facebook’s team can review them. Don’t worry, these unencrypted messages are being sent securely from your device to the Facebook cloud.

1) Launch Messenger and open the Secret Conversation you wish to report.

2) Tap the person’s name at the top.

3) Tap Block if someone is bothering you in a secret conversation on Messenger or Report → Report Conversation if you believe the selected secret chat goes against Facebook’s Community Standards that prohibit bullying or harassment, threats, and sexual violence or exploitation.

4) Select a category for your report and provide a brief explanation of what happened, then tap the Send button to report the message to Facebook.

“We won’t tell the person you’re talking to that you reported it,” says Facebook.

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  • therealjjohnson

    So I’m supposed to believe these are “secret” because of a setting in Facebook. Riiiiight…

    • You’re right, don’t take Facebook’s word for it. All you need to know is that messages are end-to-end encrypted and protected with a device key, which means any hacking attempt to break the encryption and ungarble the message must be performed on the device. Facebook does not store the encryption keys on its servers and therefore cannot see the contents of Secret Conversations.

      • therealjjohnson


  • Teddie Danh

    Hey thanks man, this is actually helpful this thing has been on my Messenger for ages and I still did not know how to start it. Anyway, is this any better than Snapchat consider sending private pic to my gf 😛

  • Sampler

    Master piece of article, I liked how practically you delineate apps’ description.

  • “a piece of mind”… really?