Meta is postponing the launch of the promised full end-to-end encryption for Facebook Messenger and Instagram until 2023. Although there was never an official date, there was previously talk of a launch in 2022. We explain the background.

No end-to-end encryption on Instagram and Facebook Messenger

End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is considered a secure transmission method and a proven means against data theft. Nevertheless, it is not a panacea. It is all the more pleasing, however, that more and more Messenger services are using the encryption method out of the box.

Meta’s subsidiary WhatsApp has already had end-to-end encryption as standard for several years. Facebook Messenger and Instagram were supposed to follow suit in the coming year 2022. But now there are apparently delays.

Concerns cause delayed launch in 2023

The Zuckerberg Group has delayed the launch of the promised full rollout of E2EE until 2023. This has mainly to do with security concerns and the protection of young people and children.

Back in 2016, Meta – then still under the name Facebook – introduced optional end-to-end encryption for its Messenger. About a year later, it followed up with a feature to read “secret conversations” on multiple devices.

But since then, Instagram and Facebook users have continued to wait for full end-to-end encryption. While WhatsApp and its competitors have already implemented E2EE by default, Facebook Messenger and Instagram are lagging behind.

Now Meta has postponed the introduction of E2EE for both services, which had been announced for 2022 and was hotly anticipated by many, by one year. That’s because, as The Guardian reports, numerous experts and organizations have voiced their concerns.

British government calls for postponement

The encryption method could be exploited by criminals and pedophiles. This is because with E2EE, the platform operators themselves no longer have access to the content of messages. This, in turn, would make cooperation with law enforcement agencies and the investigation of abuse cases much more difficult.

Priti Patel, the British Home Secretary, therefore stated that Meta’s plans for encryption were unacceptable. The introduction of E2EE on Facebook Messenger and Instagram should therefore be reviewed and postponed, she said.

Meanwhile, Antigone Davis, Meta’s head of security, also confirmed this to the British Telegraph. Whether and how the company will ultimately be able to implement end-to-end encryption is currently unclear. One possible approach would be a law planned by the UK for 2023 to protect children from relevant content on social media.

Meta security chief Davis, on the other hand, seems convinced that E2EE does not necessarily have to be subverted. The company could also act on the basis of other unencrypted data in order to cooperate with the authorities.