How to activate screenshot notifications on Messenger

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Pau Monfort
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Messenger's new end-to-end activation encryption feature notifies you when someone takes a screenshot of your secret conversations.

Meta announced updates for end-to-end encrypted chats on Facebook Messenger. Default end-to-end encryption won't arrive on Messenger until 2023, but you can now join and take advantage of the added features.

The most noteworthy development is the addition of a check to its disappearing messages that alerts you if your chat partner takes a screenshot of your retention. Here's what you need to know.

Messenger now has full end-to-end encryption (E2EE)

Meta's journey to encrypt our Messenger chats has been a bit torturous. It started when Meta (then Facebook) introduced Secret Conversations on Messenger in 2016.

Previously, Facebook Messenger allowed you to start a conversation on one device and continue the conversation on another device. Third parties like government agencies, cybercriminals and even Meta employees could easily access your chats because they were not encrypted.

Secret Conversations on Messenger changed that by limiting your chat to the device you started it on and also encrypting the conversation from end to end. Security was further enhanced when Messenger introduced Vanish mode in November 2020, which allowed your messages to disappear after a while and notified you when someone took a screenshot of said messages.

Although E2EE has been available on Meta's services for a while, it has been slowly rolled out due to concerns from law enforcement that E2EE is offering an unfair advantage to criminals. Then, Meta began to cautiously test the functionality with users who already had an existing chat thread and were connected, rather than everyone in the world.

However, Meta has announced that E2EE will be rolled out to all 900 million Messenger users globally, but with a caveat; E2EE is not available by default. You have to turn it on every time you send a message. This is out of deference to law enforcement, with whom they are still sorting things out.

Meta expects default encryption on Messenger to be rolled out globally by 2023, when Instagram and Messenger are likely to merge as well.

How to activate screenshot notifications on Messenger

Since Messenger's end-to-end encryption isn't turned on by default, you need to enable secret conversations with every Messenger contact. Both parties must have the latest version of the app. If either party doesn't, they'll have to update the app before this feature can work for them.

  • Open the Messenger app. Tap the icon of pencil which you will find in the upper right corner. This will allow you to compose a message.
  • Select the person or group you want to chat with.
  • Turn the icon on or off padlock (Android) or text secret (iOS) in the upper right corner (this puts your chat in secret conversation mode). If you cancel this action, you are returned to non-secret mode.
  • In secret conversation mode, Messenger displays an icon timer next to the chat. Tap it and select your preferred timer option (five seconds to one day). This will decide how long your message will last after your chat partner reads it.
  • Type a message as you normally would and press Send .

After doing the above, if your chat partner captures a screenshot of your secret conversation before the message disappears, Messenger will notify you immediately.

More updates for Messenger

In addition to the end-to-end activation encryption feature, encrypted calls and video calls are now also available to everyone. Users can also reply to specific messages in their end-to-end encrypted chats, by long-pressing or swiping to reply. Also, typing indicators have been added, so now you can see when others are typing.

Meta has also added verified badges to help identify authentic accounts and have meaningful interactions. The new Save Media feature will allow you to save a video or image by long pressing any media you receive. Finally, the Video Edits feature will allow you to edit a photo or video from your gallery before sending it, which means you can add stickers, text, or crop and edit audio (for videos).

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