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Facebook Messenger has more than 1.3 billion users
“We all know that Facebook lives off our data, this is how we pay for their supposedly free services. But there has to be a limit. If we find ourselves in a position where Facebook says ‘I’ll keep everything I can’, and we accept, what does that say about us and the value we place on our own privacy ”, asks Zak Doffman, journalist specialized in cybersecurity in his article of Forbes, where it explains why we should stop using this app.
According to a review, because of an unfortunate series of events (poorly managed public relations and very bad communication), The WhatsApp debacle that has caused thousands of users to migrate to Signal or Telegram these days, has distracted attention from how serious the invasion of privacy exercised by Facebook Messenger is.
He explains that Whastapp’s main defense when discussing its privacy policies is that it cannot see private messages. But if you are a Messenger user, note, you are not so lucky …
He claims that a perfect illustration of Facebook Messenger’s scant respect for privacy came to light when cybersecurity researchers Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakr revealed a year ago that the app was downloading private attachments sent between users to its own servers, as well as links to shared files and websites. “The problem of Messenger accessing your private information is easily solved, that’s what end-to-end encryption is all about,” says Doffman, hinting that what is not there is will.
Unlike WhatsApp, end-to-end encryption in Messenger only supports private messages between two people, not within groups, and is not enabled by default. When the option is selected, Facebook stops snooping through messages and downloading links and attachments.
“It is this lack of end-to-end encryption that makes Messenger useless for me. This should be the default for whatever messaging platform you use. Facebook itself has warned of the risks involved in the lack of this type of encryption, and WhatsApp deserves great recognition for having universalized access, making end-to-end encryption available to 2 billion users, ”says Doffman.
According to your analysis, End-to-end encryption shouldn’t be taken for granted – the fact that we can call and send messages from anywhere in the world, safe from government network probes and bad actors, is a huge plus. “One of the ironies of WhatsApp’s reaction is that users are leaving this app, which is encrypted end-to-end by default, by Telegram, which is not,” he warns.
This, he says, puts Facebook’s practices back in focus. Remember that in 2019, Mark Zuckerberg argued that private messaging would become the new normal, replacing the social need to share everything, everywhere. This followed early reports of Facebook’s plans to integrate WhatsApp with Messenger and Instagram DMs, creating a messaging giant that serves nearly 3 billion users.
At the time, there were reports that Messenger was going to become an end-to-end encryption system, which was a major improvement. But two years later, we have not seen any tangible progress. However, what we have seen is the beginning of that integration, starting with Messenger and Instagram, with no security improvements in sight, ”he accuses.
Last year, Facebook stated that it remained “very committed to making Messenger end-to-end encrypted by default.” In fact, Jay Sullivan of Facebook assured the Senate committee in 2019 that “people should be able to communicate securely and privately with their friends and loved ones without anyone, including Facebook, listening to or monitoring their conversations.”
Sullivan also said that users should be able to submit medical and financial information “with confidence that it will not fall into the hands of identity thieves or others with malicious intent.” But, Forbes warns, Messenger monitors content, and “health and fitness,” “sensitive information,” and “financial information” are among the mass of user data fields that it admits to collecting through its Messenger platform.
Adding end-to-end encryption would have been something of a saving grace for Messenger, as it would prevent content from being monitored, collected and processed, although it would not protect the metadata. But case WhatsApp has made millions of people realize that content encryption is not enough on its own.
In the Signal app, messages are end-to-end encrypted, meaning they are “shielded” as they surf the web until they reach the recipient.
Doffman is blunt: “The advice is now simple. If you’re still on Messenger or if you’re using Instagram DMs for anything other than casual contacts, then it’s time to switch. The easiest option is still WhatsApp. If you want a more secure option, then run Signal in parallel. It will be more useful as more contacts join. ”
For Forbes, with WhatsApp and Signal running in parallel, you are covered in terms of security and privacy. And he adds that, over time, it will end up using Signal as the default option, but for that, all your contacts need to use it too.
Finally, it recommends moving all your chats and groups from Facebook Messenger to WhatsApp or Signal. “You should do it now,” he warns.
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