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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.

Next page: Enabling 'secret conversations' in Facebook's Messenger app

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