Once again, Facebook Messenger has added a feature designed to make it your go-to messaging app. The company announced that it has begun testing secret Facebook messages, which can be read only by the people sending and receiving them — and by extension, not by law enforcement or even Facebook itself.
So how does it work? According to the post announcing these "secret conversations," encrypted messages can only be read on one device for each person in the conversation, so you can't switch between your phone and a computer. You can also set the messages to expire after a certain amount of time, after which they disappear from each person's device forever. Unfortunately, the feature currently isn't equipped to handle all of Messenger's bells and whistles; you can't send GIFs, videos, or money through a private conversation yet. It's also important to note that it's only available through the Messenger app on iOS or Android; according to Tech Crunch, it won't work on other platforms like Messenger.com or the desktop app.
Admittedly, most conversations that take place over Messenger probably don't need to be made secret. (In my experience, people mostly use it to send links and ridiculous stickers.) However, the option will undoubtedly prove useful once it moves beyond the testing phase.
Facebook has made no secret of the fact that it intends for Messenger to become the dominant form of communication; to that end, the company is constantly updating and tweaking the app. Just this year, Messenger has added bots and birthday reminders, overhauled its inbox, added more diverse emoji, and announced the ability to send SMS text messages through the app. Clearly, all the updates are working: In April, Facebook announced that Messenger hit 900 million monthly users.
Although not everyone is going to need secret conversations, having a more secure option may put some users' minds at ease. Facebook writes that the feature is still in limited testing, but it should roll out to more users this summer.
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