No matter how popular an app might be, that doesn’t necessarily make it safe. For example, Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular chat apps on the planet, but according to a self-proclaimed Apple expert, the app isn’t as safe as its popularity might suggest.
“To the surprise of many, Facebook Messenger is one of the very few such applications that iPhone users should never install on their devices,” Spylix CEO Steven Walker told The Sun in an interview. “It is so popular that people might not think of it as a problematic application.” The reason? Facebook Messenger doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption.
Is Facebook Messenger safe to download?
Taking a step back, it’s unlikely that anyone wants to spy on your conversations with friends and family members. That said, you can never be too careful. The internet is an increasingly dangerous place, and zero-day attacks are virtually a weekly occurrence at this point. If you don’t need Facebook Messenger on your phone, you might as well avoid it.
Given the potential security concerns, Walker recommends using “alternatives that provide better security options and end-to-end encryption.”
Safest messenger apps for mobile devices
The most popular mobile chat app also happens to be one of the safest around. WhatsApp has more than 2 billion users worldwide — nearly double that of Facebook Messenger. It’s worth noting that Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, also owns WhatsApp. Nevertheless, end-to-end encryption now protects “every form of communication on its service,” as Wired reported all the way back in 2016.
While it’s not nearly as popular as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, Signal prides itself on ensuring the conversations on its app are always secure. Signal can’t read your messages or listen to your phone calls, and neither can anyone else. The app also doesn’t feature any ads, affiliate marketing, or tracking. Plus, it’s completely free. If you care more about privacy than any other feature a chat app can offer, give Signal a try.
Will Messenger ever get end-to-end encryption?
A year ago, Facebook suggested that end-to-end encryption would come to Messenger and Instagram Direct by 2022 at the earliest:
We’re also working hard to bring default end-to-end encryption to all of our messaging services. This will protect people’s private messages and mean only the sender and recipient, not even us, can access their messages. While we expect to make more progress on default end-to-end encryption for Messenger and Instagram Direct this year, it’s a long-term project and we won’t be fully end-to-end encrypted until sometime in 2022 at the earliest. Moreover, the safety features we’ve already introduced are designed to work with end-to-end encryption, and we plan to continue building strong safety features into our services.
The company has since pushed this timeline back. Due to concerns about bad actors abusing end-to-end encryption, Meta wants to take its time to get the system right. Therefore, Meta’s head of safety, Antigone Davis, says it won’t be ready until 2023.