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Facebook Messenger gains WhatsApp-like encrypted chat

Facebook Messenger

Online privacy and protection of sensitive content is in the fore this week on social media, especially in the wake of the livestreamed shooting of Philando Castile last week. Using Facebook Live video streaming service, Castile’s girlfriend broadcast his ordeal after he was shot by police.

Facebook has since published a statement, suggesting that if an incident like the above was streamed using its service “to raise awareness or find the shooter,” it would “allow it”.

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The video also raised issues about communicating to others over social media with sensitive information. On that note, Facebook just a few hours after its statement announced new measures to beef up its Facebook Messenger platform, adding end-to-end encryption with Snapchat-like disappearing messages.

Related: Alton Sterling, Philando Castile & Dallas shootings: celebrities weigh-in on America’s violent week

“[W]e are starting to test the ability to create one-to-one secret conversations in Messenger that will be end-to-end encrypted and which can only be read on one device of the person you’re communicating with,” the company announced late last week, suggesting that some topics warrant “additional safeguards” on its platform.

“Within a secret conversation, you can also choose to set a timer to control the length of time each message you send remains visible within the conversation.”

Notably, it’s the same encryption tech used by WhatsApp developed by Open Whisper Systems.

Facebook notes that the optional encryption feature is currently trialing on a “limited test basis right now” but should roll out within the next few months.

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