Facebook Messenger adds end-to-end encryption to Messenger audio and video calls

Security and privacy are an important element to a lot of people. It’s one of the reasons why iMessage is so popular, even in the midst of so many different messaging services out there. But most of them do offer end-to-end encryption, and now Facebook can say it does, too, for video and audio calling.

Today, Facebook has announced that it is adding the option to make its audio and video calls within Messenger end-to-end encrypted. With this feature switched on, this will make both calls, regardless of which you choose, far more private and secure moving forward. This builds upon the end-to-end encryption Facebook Messenger has offered for one-on-one chats since 2016.

As part of its announcement today, Facebook says that video and audio calls have surged within the last year. Not that that should surprise anyone. On Messenger alone, the social network says that it sees more than 150 million audio and video calls a day.

With so many people making audio and video calls, it makes sense that Facebook would turn adding end-to-end encryption into a major priority. From today’s announcement:

End-to-end encryption is already widely used by apps like WhatsApp to keep personal conversations safe from hackers and criminals. It’s becoming the industry standard and works like a lock and key, where just you and the people in the chat or call have access to the conversation. The content of your messages and calls in an end-to-end encrypted conversation is protected from the moment it leaves your device to the moment it reaches the receiver’s device. This means that nobody else, including Facebook, can see or listen to what’s sent or said. Keep in mind, you can report an end-to-end encrypted message to us if something’s wrong.

Facebook also said it is making some changes to the way disappearing messages work, at least as far as controls are concerned. With these changes, users will be able to choose the amount of time before all new messages disappear. Messenger users will be able to choose between five seconds and all the way up to 24 hours.

What’s more, Facebook says that end-to-end encrypted group chats and calls in Messenger is coming soon:

We’ll begin testing end-to-end encryption for group chats, including voice and video calls, for friends and family that already have an existing chat thread or are already connected. We’ll also begin a test for your delivery controls to work with your end-to-end encrypted chats. That way, you can prevent unwanted interactions by deciding who can reach your chats list, who goes to your requests folder, and who can’t message you at all.

And so is the ability to opt-in for end-to-end encrypted Instagram DMs:

We’ll also kick off a limited test with adults in certain countries that lets them opt-in to end-to-end encrypted messages and calls for one-on-one conversations on Instagram. Similar to how Messenger works today, you need to have an existing chat or be following each other to start an end-to-end encrypted DM. As always, you can block someone you don’t want to talk to or report something to us if it doesn’t seem right.

No word on when those last two features will go live, but Facebook is at least working on them now.