Meta (NASDAQ:META) has announced the implementation of default end-to-end encryption for calls and messages on its Facebook and Messenger platforms. This encryption ensures that only the sender and recipient, excluding Meta, can interpret the messages. Originally introduced as an optional feature in Messenger in 2016, encrypted chats will now be the standard for all users, as stated by Messenger head Loredana Crisan.
In a blog post, Crisan emphasized the meticulous process undertaken over several years to perfect the implementation, involving the efforts of engineers, cryptographers, designers, policy experts, and product managers who reconstructed Messenger features from the ground up. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg had pledged to introduce end-to-end encryption to the platforms in 2019, following a series of notable scandals, including the Cambridge Analytica incident.
While Meta asserts that this feature will enhance user safety by protecting against hackers, fraudsters, and criminals, critics, law enforcement, and a 2022 Meta report have highlighted potential risks associated with enhanced encryption. Concerns include the possibility of users abusing the privacy feature for purposes such as exploiting children, facilitating human trafficking, and spreading hate speech.
Internet Watch Foundation CEO Susie Hargreaves raised questions about Meta’s decision, particularly its potential impact on children who have suffered sexual abuse. She urged Meta to maintain its commitment to detecting and preventing child sexual abuse material on its platforms. Despite the immediate availability of the new features, Crisan noted that it would take some time for the privacy feature to be fully rolled out to all users.
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