Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Making Messenger private

I have written before about Facebook privacy issues (here), and I have written recently about the insecurity of metadata in Messenger (here). However, what I have not written about is that we can use Messenger in a more secure way. How this can be done is clunky, and it is annoying, but you can go into stealth mode and protect your data if you want to.

In fact, the very fact that doing this is clunky and difficult shows how unwilling Facebook is for us to protect our data. While I can understand why they want our data, it is annoying how hard they make it for those of us to keep our own data private. Most people won't care about privacy. 

OK, so to begin, there are three caveats. Firstly this is ONLY an option on the phone-based Messenger app. This does not work on a PC. Secondly, you have to actively select the option each time you go to send a message. Thirdly, the stealth mode messages do not contain any of your previous chat history.

How we do this is to go into a 'normal' chat thread that we have. Click on the i in the circle in the top right-hand corner, then select the "Go to Secret Conversation" option, which has a padlock symbol beside it (see the first image accompanying this post). Click the padlock. This will launch a "Secret Conversation".

You will know if you have enabled the "Secret Conversation" mode as a padlock will appear in the bottom corner of our chat buddy's icon (see second screen above). When we chat, we will continue to see that our chat buddy's icon has a padlock icon (see the third image). We will also note that our chat has gone black and white in this mode. 

I am still dithering as to how useful this will be for me, as I use messenger on my PC and on my phone. It is a flaming nuisance to only be able to keep my metadata safe when using my phone, but perhaps the new anti-trust case against Facebook might make them change their view.

Fingers crossed.


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