Facebook Messenger app
Image: iStock

Security has become incredibly important to businesses and consumers. The more data we transmit, the more this issue is forced into the center of the conversation. And in this modern era of constant communication, if you’re not thinking with a security-first mindset, you’re placing yourself at risk.

SEE: Password breach: Why pop culture and passwords don’t mix (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

This holds true with every mobile app you use … including Facebook Messenger. Although Facebook has been plagued with security issues, they’ve finally added a new layer of security to their messaging application. Said layer is end-to-end encryption, which means that only the device the message is sent to can decrypt the message. In other words, with this feature enabled, only the people you send messages to can actually read those messages. This prevents third parties from eavesdropping on your communications.

However, end-to-end encryption is not enabled by default in Facebook Messenger. Fortunately, it’s not hard to enable. Let me show you how.

What you’ll need

To enable e2e encryption on Facebook Messenger, you’ll need the app installed on either an Android or iOS device and, of course, a Facebook account.

That’s it. Let’s make it so.

How to enable e2e encryption in Facebook Messenger

You don’t enable e2e on Facebook Messenger globally. Instead, you enable it for individual contacts. To start an e2e encrypted chat with a contact, open the Facebook Messenger app. Next, tap the profile icon of the contact for which you want to switch on e2e encryption, and then, in the conversation window, tap their profile icon again. In the resulting window (Figure A), look for Go To Secret Conversation (under More Actions).

Figure A

Starting an encrypted chat with a user in Facebook messenger.

The window will change to the end-to-end encrypted version of the chat (Figure B).

Figure B

An e2e encrypted chat with another FB Messenger user looks like this.

In that same window, you can also configure those messages to disappear after a set time. To do that, tap the clock icon at the left edge of the text area. In the resulting window (Figure C), select a time frame for when the message will vanish.

Figure C

Setting an encrypted message to disappear after a specified period.

Type your message and send as per usual. This message will then be encrypted and only the receiver will be able to read it.

Remember, the encrypted conversations will be separate from your non-e2e conversations with the same contact. Because of that, make sure you use the right conversation for the right information. Also of note is that these e2e conversations do not show up on the web-based version of Facebook and in the Android notification shade they appear as “Secret Conversation.”

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