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Facebook shared plans to turn on end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default in its Messenger, saying it has begun testing the feature for chats “between some people” this week.
As of now, Messenger users have a choice whether to turn on E2EE on a per-chat basis, however, only a security-conscious minority has been using it so far. Making E2EE a default function will add a substantial layer of security to a chat platform used by more than a billion people worldwide.
E2EE means that Facebook cannot view the content of its users’ messages — only participants can. This makes it much harder (though not impossible) for third parties like hackers or law enforcement agencies to get access to online conversations.
This comes after Facebook has been criticized for paying little attention to users' privacy, especially after the reversal of Roe v. Wade in the United States, where digital footprints like app chats will be used as evidence in prosecuting newly criminalized abortions.
This was highlighted in a case this week, where Facebook complied with a police search warrant to hand over the Messenger chat history of a Nebraskan teen and her mother, leading to the pair’s prosecution for charges related to the state’s preexisting abortion laws.
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