Security has become one of the most talked-about elements of mobile devices recently, so it’s perhaps not all that surprising that one of the largest social media networks in the world would be gearing up to roll out its own features. According to a report from The Guardian, Facebook is planning to introduce an optional end-to-end encryption mode for its Facebook Messenger chat platform, currently used by more than 900 million people.
Citing sources “close to the project,” The Guardian says the encryption will be an opt-in feature because turning it on will impact some of the new machine learning features being built into the Messenger app like chat bots. Google’s upcoming “Allo” messaging app also offers an opt-in end-to-end encryption option it calls “incognito mode.”
However, there are some caveats. First, end-to-end encryption will be rolled out behind-the-scenes, but that it will be opt-in for Facebook users. From the sound of the report, the reason for the opt-in option is because Facebook’s chat bots won’t be able to function correctly if the security measure is implemented.
Many major technology companies have taken a stronger stance on privacy, embracing end-to-end encryption following Apple’s standoff with the FBI. Earlier this year, the FBI demanded Apple unlock the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook by bypassing Apple’s own passcode security features.
Of course, encryption is now activated by default in WhatsApp, and it’s been that way for Apple’s iMessage right out of the gate. Moving forward it sounds like it will be up to customers to tell Facebook if they prefer chat bots or security.