How to enable end-to-end encryption for Facebook Messenger chats


Facebook messenger app up close.

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Recently, I was talking to someone via Facebook Messenger On macOS when I got a warning that messages can’t be encrypted in Safari and I have to use a different browser or the Facebook Messenger app.

Naturally, this piqued my curiosity. I was using the latest version of Safari on the latest version of macOS Monterey. I checked the official Facebook page to see which browsers supported end-to-end encryption, and Safari was definitely on the list along with Chrome and Firefox.

However, there is a caveat.

Although Chrome and Firefox both support end-to-end encrypted chats on facebook.com, Safari only supports end-to-end encryption when using messenger.com.

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It struck me as weird because Safari on facebook.com offers the option to encrypt individual chats.

So, what gives? Even after clicking to enable end-to-end encryption in Safari at facebook.com, it indicates that the chat is encrypted.

Is this an identity error case, or is Facebook not aware that the feature actually works in Safari on both facebook.com and messenger.com?

Either way, I’d like to give you a few options so you can be sure that your Facebook conversations are covered with end-to-end encryption.

But first… why bother?

What is end-to-end encryption?

Essentially, end-to-end encryption adds another layer of security to your messaging conversations. When you enable E2E encryption, only you and anyone involved in the chat will be able to see the connection. This means that nothing you say can be intercepted and used against you by a third party.

For anyone serious about security and privacy, E2E encryption should be an absolute must, even with something as simple as a Facebook chat.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that E2E encryption on Facebook Messenger, via a web browser, is done on a one-chat basis. By default, at least within your web browser, not all chats use E2E encryption, so you have to enable it manually. On the other hand, if you are using the Messenger app, E2E will be enabled by default in all chats.

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How to enable E2E encryption in your web browser

how do you do that? let me show you

requirements

Instead of using your web browser for Facebook Messenger chats, you should always choose to use the Messenger app. Of course, if you’re using a mobile device, you’re most likely using the Messenger app anyway. However, if you are using a desktop or laptop computer, you are most likely using a web browser, which means that your conversations do not use E2E encryption.

For macOS, you can install the Facebook Messenger app from within the App Store. For Windows, you can download a file installer file And launch the app in a jiffy. If you’re on Linux, unfortunately, you’re in luck, as there is no Facebook Messenger desktop app (which is ironic, given the amount of open source software that Facebook relies on). However, on Linux, you can enable end-to-end encryption based on chat via chat at facebook.com in both Firefox and Chrome.

To reiterate, if you use the Facebook Messenger app, all of your conversations use E2E encryption. If you are using a supported web browser, you must enable it on a per-chat basis.

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Open a web browser and go to facebook.com or messenger.com.

Open a conversation on Facebook. Once the chat is open, open the chat settings drop-down menu by clicking on the name of the person you are chatting with at the top of the chat popup. You should see a menu pop up, where you can then click start an end-to-end encrypted conversation.

Popup menu for Facebook Messenger chat settings.

Enable E2E encryption for Facebook Messenger chat.

Photo: Jack Wallen

And that’s it to take advantage of end-to-end encryption on Facebook to ensure the privacy and security of your discussions. Although this will not prevent passers-by from reading your chats, it will ensure that they are not intercepted by a third party and used against you.


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