Are your chat messages secure? Depends on what platform you’re using.
Skype recently made headlines when they announced the introduction of end-to-end encryption for private chatting with their feature Private Conversations. But long before that, some of your other favorite online messaging platforms already had available protected chat features. These include Whatsapp, and, though you may not have realized it, Facebook Messenger.
Back in 2016, Facebook debuted its version of end-to-end encrypted communication: Secret Conversations. The feature allows for information to be sent via the service without anyone but the two involved parties gaining access. You can send messages, pictures, videos and stickers, but cannot send payments or gifs. Video chat and group messaging are also not currently supported.
[Looking for ways to strengthen your Facebook security? We’ve got six quick tips.]
Secret Conversations is available in the Facebook Messenger app for iOS and Android, but not on a desktop. The feature was added quietly and only as an opt-in feature, meaning there’s a good chance you’ve been letting this little-known Facebook capability go to waste.
Below, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide on how to enable Secret Conversations so you can finally take your Facebook chatting to a more secured, private level.
Using Secret Conversations
To get started, open the Facebook Messenger app on your iOS or Android device.
In the iOS app, click the pencil on paper icon in the top right. Then click “Secret” in the top right. Then, choose your recipient and type your message. Before you send, you have the option, if you’d like, to set a timer for how long the message can be read before it disappears from record. You can click the clock icon on the left side of the text box and choose an amount of time ranging from 5 seconds to 1 day.
For Android, open Messenger and choose the name you’d like to contact. Then click the blue icon depicting an “i” with a circle around it in the top right. Then click “Go to Secret Conversation.” You’ll have the same option to click the clock icon inside the text box to set a timer for the message.
Deleting Secret Conversations
You can, with either operating system, also choose to delete all your secret conversations if you haven’t had them already disappear via timer.
On iOS, click your profile picture in the top left. Scroll and click “Secret Conversations,” then “Delete Secret Conversations,” then “Delete All.”
On an Android, click your profile picture in the top right, scroll and hit “Secret Conversations,” then “Delete Secret Conversations,” then “Delete All.”
You cannot, however, remove the content from the other person’s phone.
If you like, Facebook lets you confirm message encryption through the use of device keys. Each secret conversation you have has a device key on your phone. If it matches the device key on your conversation partner’s phone, the encryption is successful.
To see your device key for iPhone or iPad, select a secret conversation, tap the recipient’s name at the top, and click “Device Keys.” For Android, open the conversation, click the “i” icon at the top and then “Device Keys.” Then, compare with the device key on your friend’s phone.
When originally introduced, Secret Conversations did not support use on multiple devices. Facebook has since added that capability. Simply log in on your new device and begin private messaging. Messages from the old device will not appear in the history, but new messages will be available to view on all enabled devices.
If you receive any inappropriate content through Secret Conversations, you are still able to report the exchange to Facebook.
Securing your online presence is an ongoing, at times confusing, process. But if you’re looking for end-to-end encrypted messaging that can let you easily chat and send pictures through from your phone or tablet, Secret Conversations could be a valuable tool.