Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has said the social media giant will be encrypting more of its messaging services, calling it “the right thing to do”.
Writing in a Facebook post late last night, Zuckerberg said Facebook users would be able to message Whatsapp users through Messenger, and vice versa.
The tech founder referred to previously-announced plans to integrate Facebook’s three platforms – Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram – into one messaging service accessible through any of the three apps.
However he advised that the plans for encryption could change, as the firm will continue to consult experts until the end of this year.
"As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today's open platforms," said Zuckerberg.
“Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks.”
Zuckerberg also said the messages would be ephemeral, deleting themselves after a period of time rather than automatically forming an archive.
He admitted that the news may surprise some users, “because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services”.
“But we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.”
The move to encryption will prevent Facebook from collecting data about its users from their messages, but Zuckerberg said it will still continue to retrieve data from other parts of its platforms.
Facebook has been facing a great deal of public scrutiny regarding its data collection policies, after a firm called Cambridge Analytica was found to be selling users’ data to third parties for use in political elections.
The social media company said earlier this week that it would not be providing information to the UK parliament regarding an underground far-right network, which paid for ads on its site related to Brexit.
The so-called Mainstream Network is said to have run a series of political ads on Facebook last year which targeted voters in key Leave-voting constituencies, urging them to pressure their MP not to back Theresa May’s withdrawal deal.
Facebook refused to provide the information to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, arguing that it had already given the necessary data to the UK data regulator.