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Facebook now has a disappearing messages service called "Secret Conversations"

How to send secret and disappearing Facebook messages

Facebook users can now send one another “secret” messages that can’t be read by the company or eavesdroppers thanks to heightened security in a new section of the Messenger app.

The new feature called “Secret Conversations”, which was announced earlier this summer, means that users can send messages that are end-to-end encrypted, with an option to set a timer for them to self-destruct.

The secure add-on brings Messenger in line with other messaging apps that have enhanced security, such as the end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp, iMessage and Telegram, Snapchat’s disappearing pictures, and Google Allo’s “Incognito” messaging.

What is Encryption?
What is end to end Encryption?

When should I send encrypted messages?

The “Secret Conversations” section is designed to give Facebook users enhanced privacy for messages that could contain sensitive information. Messages sent through the new section will not be visible to anyone but the the person with the device. So neither Facebook, eavesdroppers nor the government will be able to see the contents – if you’re worried about any of those. 

The threads are also only visible on one device, so if you send an encrypted message from your phone you won’t be able to see it on the Facebook web browser.

When the company announced the feature, David Marcus, the head of Facebook’s Messenger unit, said: “My teenage daughter just started her first internship and needed her social security number, which is secure but I didn’t know how to send it to her with total peace of mind.

“We have so many identity theft issues [in the US], that I wouldn’t send it by email or want it to stay in a thread.”

How to send a “secret” Facebook message

  1. As you can only register one device from which to use Secret Conversations on per Facebook account, you should first choose the device
  2. Open the Messenger app on you chosen device
  3. Tap the compose button in the top right hand corner of the screen
  4. A list of contacts will appear and in the top right will be the word “Secret”. Tap this
  5. Select the person you want to message
  6. To set up a timer on a message tap the stopwatch icon in the text box

How to tell a message is encrypted

When you receive a “secret” message from a friend it the notification says “Someone sent you a message” rather than revealing their name. Secret chats appear with your regular conversations within Messenger but are marked with a small, black padlock icon over the person’s profile picture.

If you want to check that the messages are encrypted, you can compare the “device key”, the unique code given to each device to unlock the encryption.

To check a conversation’s device keys:

  1. Start a secret conversation
  2. Tap on their name at the top of the chat
  3. Select “Device Keys”
  4. Compare the “Device Keys” on your friend’s phone and make sure they match. If they do, the conversation is encrypted

Source: The Telegraph (UK).

About Dr. Idris Ahmed

Dr. Idris Ahmed is the President and founder of the CUPS organisation. He is a Cryptologist (Mathematical science of designing and breaking computer security systems). He is the founder and Chief Executive officer of Tecomex Forensics Ltd (www.tecomex-forensics.com). He is passionate about fighting corruption, enhancing democracy, and establishing good governance in Nigeria. He is the Editor in Chief of the cupstv.com website.

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