On Instagram, private messages will finally be able to be encrypted end-to-end

Facebook reported on the optional deployment of end-to-end encryption on its platforms. The mechanism will soon benefit private messages on Instagram.

Private messages on Instagram may not be the most used feature of the social network, however an important update will take place soon. In a progress update published in August, the platform’s parent company, Facebook, announced that end-to-end encryption for private messages will arrive in the coming weeks.

This option, which must first go through a test phase with a small group of adults in several countries, will not be enabled by default. When it is ready and deployed, Internet users will have to go to Instagram settings to have it. It will be offered for existing private chats, but also for two people who follow each other on the community site.

Facebook Messenger Instagram
Facebook has embarked on a major project, which aims to bring its messaging services closer together. In addition to Messenger and Instagram, a connection to WhatsApp is also in the works. // Source: Facebook

In short, this functionality is based on the same mechanics as what already exists for Messenger, the internal Facebook chat tool. Here too, end-to-end encryption is available, but optional. By default, conversations do not benefit from this layer of security (this does not mean that they circulate in the clear on the net). This requires going through secret conversations.

In this mode, even Facebook cannot know the exact content of your exchanges, because the messages are rendered illegible before circulating on the social network. In place since 2016, this system was extended this summer. For example, it benefits audio and video calls on Messenger. Moreover, calls via Instagram between two individuals are also entitled to this mode, if it is activated.

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What is called end-to-end encryption is a math-based method for strengthening the confidentiality and integrity of a discussion. By mobilizing a protocol – here, Facebook uses the Signal protocol, open source, which is authoritative in the field of consumer applications, because it is widely used – only authorized persons have access to the exchanges and to the data passing through this channel. .

Facebook messaging merger

The technical evolution promised for Instagram is part of a vast movement initiated by Facebook for at least two years – the first indications of a merger between WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger date back to early 2019. A first step was taken in 2020, with a merger of messaging from Instagram and Messenger, but for the moment without encryption.

With the promised update for Instagram, the prospect of launching a discussion with end-to-end encryption between two Internet users, each on their service (one on Instagram, the other on Messenger), is getting closer. It remains to be seen when and under what conditions this scenario will emerge. What if Facebook intends to end up making this mode a default setting?

This last point is important for the future: unlike Instagram and Messenger, which offer this end-to-end encryption as an option, WhatsApp has had this mechanism by default since 2016. However, we absolutely cannot imagine the social network making a comeback. back. It would be potentially risky for the platform, leading many users to leave.

Photo credit of the one:
Nino Barbey for Numerama

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