Leave a comment

Facebook Messenger's one essential privacy setting you need to make now

Facebook Messenger's one essential privacy setting you need to make now
photo courtesy of Shutterstock

With Facebook's nearly 2 billion worldwide active monthly users, it is one of the most popular social media sites in the world. It has been around for over a decade now, helping us connect with people from our past and keep up with everything going on in our world.

The social media giant keeps rolling out new and enticing features to keep users coming back for more. Facebook Live allows live streaming video, on-this-day flashbacks let us see what we were up to on specific days in years past, and Facebook Messenger lets us instant message family and friends. But what if you want to have a private conversation with someone without anyone else able to access it?

Facebook recently added an end-to-end encryption privacy setting to its Messenger app. It will allow users to have 'secret conversations' that no one else will be able to access. However, to take advantage of this feature you must turn it on, as the default setting for conversations on the Messenger app is off.

What is end-to-end encryption?

You might be wondering: What is end-to-end encryption? And, why do you need it?

First, encryption is an extremely secure way to protect your conversations from being heard or seen by anyone but you. It's a method that scrambles your data so, even if a hacker intercepts the data, they can't see anything but gibberish.

End-to-end encryption means the encryption extends from one end of the communication pathway to the other. It doesn't offer hackers any point to tap in and steal an unencrypted version of the message.

The end-to-end encryption feature in the Messenger app is the same service used in the Facebook-owned Whatsapp. It will make it impossible for hackers, governments, telecoms and even Facebook itself to read these conversations. Only the sender and recipient can see the messages and only on one device of their choosing.

You might remember in early 2016 there was a legal battle between the FBI and Apple over an encrypted phone owned by one of the San Bernardino shooters. The FBI ended up dropping the case after finding a way into the phone without Apple's help.

End-to-end encryption is designed to defeat attempts at surveillance or tampering because no third party can decode the communicated data.

Enable 'secret conversations'

Here are the steps to enable 'secret conversations' in Facebook Messenger:

  • Open the Facebook Messenger app
  • Tap the 'Me' button located in the bottom right-hand corner - meThis opens a settings page within the app.

facebook mess app

  • Tap Secret Conversations - That opens the page that allows you to enable secret conversations.

secret conversations notification

Once the secret conversations setting is enabled, you're ready to use the end-to-end encryption feature.

How to send a "secret" Facebook message

Here is how to start a secret conversation in the Messenger app:

  • Choose your device - You can only register one device from which to use Secret Conversations per Facebook account. So the first thing you need to do is choose the device.
  • Open Facebook Messenger - Open the Messenger app on the device you selected.
  • Tap the compose button - In the upper right-hand corner you will find the compose button. It looks like a pencil and paper. paper
  • Tap Secret - Tap 'Secret' located in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Select a recipient - Choose who you want to send a message from your list of contacts.
  • Set a timer for the message - If you want to make your message disappear at a specific time, tap the stopwatch icon located at the bottom right hand of the screen. timerFrom there you can choose how long your message will last before it disappears.

Delete all secret conversations

There is an option to delete all of the secret conversations that you have had on your gadget. Deleting them from your gadget does not delete them from whoever's gadget that you had the conversation with. If you want the conversation completely wiped out, make sure the person you spoke with also deletes it from their gadget.

Here is how to delete all secret conversations from your gadget:

  • Open the Facebook Messenger app
  • Tap the 'Me' button me
  • Tap Secret Conversations - This opens the page where you enable the feature.
  • Tap Delete Secret Conversations - A pop-up window opens, asking you to confirm that you want to delete them.

secret conversations delete

  • Tap Delete - All of the secret conversations on your gadget will be wiped out once you tap delete.

There are other apps out there that also offer end-to-end encryption. Apple's FaceTime and Google Allo are a couple of examples.

Allo is an instant messaging mobile app from Google. End-to-end encryption is also available with Allo when you chat in Incognito mode.

Bonus tip: Here is how to enable Incognito mode in Google Allo:

  • Open Allo
  • Tap New Chat >> Start incognito chat
  • Select recipient - From your contacts list, select the person you want to start a chat with. You can also find the person by searching for their name or number.

While you are in incognito mode, your chats are end-to-end encrypted and can only be seen by you and the person you're chatting with. Google can't even read these messages.

There is also a feature in Allo that will let you set a timer for the message to disappear. The default time is one hour, but you can change that.

Here is how to set a message to expire in Allo:

  • Open Allo 
  • Tap New Chat >> Start incognito chat
  • Tap the timer - You will see the timer in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Select when the message expires - You can choose for the message to never expire, or select a length of time before it disappears. The timer starts for the sender when the message is sent and for the recipient when the message is read.
Next Story
View Comments ()
5 great mobile apps to earn extra money
Previous Tips

5 great mobile apps to earn extra money

What does IP67 mean for your gadgets?
Next Tips

What does IP67 mean for your gadgets?