Facebook says it has begun to offer users the option of securing their messages with end-to-end encryption, a service that soon may allow more than a billion account holders — potentially including jihad and other terror groups — to message one another below the radar of law enforcement surveillance.
The “secret conversation” feature was slated to be rolled out to select users starting last Friday, followed by a wider deployment later this summer, the company said in a statement.
By implementing end-to-end encryption, Facebook aims to give its users a way of communicating over the network’s proprietary Messenger application in a manner intended to make correspondence undecipherable to anyone other than the sender and recipient, a possibility that alarms law enforcement officials.
“That means the messages are intended just for you and the other person — not anyone else, including us,” Facebook said in a blog post announcing the feature Friday.
The secret conversation function uses a previously released communication protocol called Signal, a free and open-source software that can be audited by anyone and already has been implemented by other messaging programs, including WhatsApp, Google Allo and an eponymous encryption app released in 2014.