Meta Postpones Encryption of Facebook and Instagram Until 2023
Meta is deferring their plans to encrypt Facebook and Instagram until 2023, despite child safety advocates’ concerns that the proposal could allow predators to go undetected.
After being warned by child safety campaigners, the CEO of Meta ultimately postponed their plans to encrypt Facebook and Instagram messages until 2023, claiming that it would prevent abusers from being detected.
Table of Contents
End-to-end Encrypted Apps From Meta
Meta has been employing end-to-end encryption in the WhatsApp messaging service, in addition to Facebook and Instagram encryption. In 2022, they intend to expand the encryption to both Messenger and Instagram.
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, employed encryption on Messenger voice and video communications in 2019. “Individuals expect their private conversations to be secure and only be seen by the people they’ve sent them to,” the CEO said in a statement.
In 2019, the firm promised that Messenger is safe for both audio and video calls, in addition to its encryption.
Read Also: Facebook’s own oversight board was kept in the dark about the VIP user program
Why Meta Delays Encrypt Messages Plan for 2022
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), together with child safety advocates, voiced alarm over Meta’s encryption intentions.
According to the NSPCC, private messaging frontlines child sexual abuse online as it prevents law authorities from identifying and recognizing messages. End-to-end encryption, in which only the sender and recipient have access to communication contents, will solve this problem.
The billion-dollar social media company of Mark Zuckerberg was pressed to abandon the alleged encryption ambitions.
Meta responds by stating that the plan will be continued, but that the process will be implemented in 2023, rather than 2022 as originally planned.
According to a report by the National Crime Agency (NCA), the tech industry will have referred over 21 million child sexual abuse cases to the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by 2020. 20 million reports were from Facebook.
Meta can detect abuse even after encryption plans are implemented, according to Antigone Davis, Facebook’s safety chief. Meta uses account information, non-encrypted data, and reports to detect misuse.
The method is similar to WhatsApp, which allows users to report inappropriate behavior to various child safety authorities.
“We’re taking our time to get this right, and we don’t aim to finish the global rollout of end-to-end encryption by default across all our messaging services until sometime in 2023,” Davis wrote in The Telegraph about Meta’s new encryption schedule and the balance they are working hard to achieve.
“Facebook is right not to proceed with end-to-end encryption until it has a proper plan to prevent child abuse going undetected on its platforms,” Andy Burrows, the NSPCC’s child safety online policy head, said after the news.
Criticism for Meta’s Move to Encrypt Messages from Facebook and Instagram
While many people supported Meta’s proposal, others were against it.
Priti Patel, a British MP, expressed concern in April that Meta’s end-to-end encryption would make it difficult for law authorities to uncover users who are doing criminal crimes against children online.
The similar issue was expressed by the UK’s communication regulator, Ofcom, which is in charge of the online safety bill that will be passed into law in 2023. Melanie Dawes advises that social media behemoths absolutely prohibit adults from engaging directly with minors online; if they do, they will face criminal charges.
“They should only go forward with these steps when they can demonstrate that they have the technologies in place to ensure that children are not at increased danger of abuse,” she added.