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Facebook launches Secret nversations Snapchat-like feature

Facebook has announced it has started testing end-to-end encryption with Secret Conversations on its Messenger app.

The move is designed to better support conversations about sensitive topics, the social media giant says in a company blog post.

Messages and calls on Messenger already benefit from strong security systems. Messenger uses secure communications channels similar to banking and shopping websites, as well as Facebook’s own tools to help block spam and malware. 

However, Facebook says users have requested additional safeguards within Messenger for sensitive conversations, for example private information like an illness or a health issue, or sending financial information to an accountant.

“To enable you to do this we are starting to test the ability to create one-to-one Secret Conversations in Messenger that will be end-to-end encrypted and which can only be read on one device of the person you’re communicating with,” Facebook explains.

“That means the messages are intended just for you and the other person — not anyone else, including us.”

Within a Secret Conversation, users can also choose to set a timer to control the length of time each message they send remains visible within the conversation.

Starting a Secret Conversation with someone is optional, because many people want Messenger to work when you switch between devices, such as a tablet, desktop computer or phone.

“Secret Conversations can only be read on one device and we recognise that experience may not be right for everyone,” Facebook says.

“It’s also important to note that in secret conversations we don’t currently support rich content like GIFs and videos, making payments, or other popular Messenger features.”

The Secret Conversation feature is available on a limited test basis, but Facebook says it will be making the option more widely available shortly.

“During this test, we will gather feedback about the functionality, measure performance and introduce tools to enable you to report objectionable content to us,” the company says.

“We are putting a lot of thought into the design and implementation of this feature, and we are grateful to the security and privacy experts who have given us their valuable input.”

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