Your encrypted Facebook Messenger chats get some much-needed upgrades

Meta is also expanding the test of E2EE chats by default on Messenger worldwide


Meta rolled out support for optional end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) conversations in Facebook Messenger seven long years ago, with options to secure group chats and calls arriving in early 2022. Alongside the new security feature, Messenger users who use E2EE chats were treated to a few other features available in regular conversations, including access to GIFs, stickers, and reactions. Meta is now expanding the list of supported features for secure Messenger conversations, bringing E2EE chats closer to feature parity with standard chats.

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Messenger users can now customize their private messages by selecting from a variety of themes, including static colors and gradient backgrounds. They can also use custom emoji and reactions in E2EE chats and set profile photos for group chats, Meta announced in a blog post.

Prior to this change, when chatting with someone in Messenger’s secure environment, you had to make do with a plain white background. All additional customization options vanished when you entered E2EE chats, too, also known as “secret conversations.”

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With the latest update, you no longer have to give up your privacy to gain full access to Messenger’s customization features. Furthermore, Messenger will now show you a preview of where a link will take you before you tap it, and you can turn off the active status indicator to hide your online presence from everyone. E2EE chats on Android also now support reading and replying to messages via chat bubbles.

Meta’s efforts to carry over regular chat features to E2EE conversations come as the company strives to make encrypted chats the norm for all Messenger users. The company previously promised to roll this out by the end of 2023, and it says it’s still on track to achieve this goal even with its cautious and slow approach.

The testing started in August of last year and will expand over the next few months, with more people receiving notifications that their chats are being upgraded to default E2EE. According to Meta, it will happen at random.

Many of the best messaging apps, such as Signal and WhatsApp (also owned by Meta), already encrypt chats by default. It’s puzzling why Messenger has taken so long to catch up after introducing the feature in 2016.

Although the company first made E2E encryption available as an option a few years ago, this is the platform’s first significant step toward making this privacy setting the default. Taken together, it’s a big move for user security on Meta’s services.

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