How Facebook Made Its Messenger App More Secure, Versatile

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-07-11
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    How Facebook Made Its Messenger App More Secure, Versatile
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    How Facebook Made Its Messenger App More Secure, Versatile

    Facebook is now giving users of its Messenger app the ability to send "secret" messages with the option of a self-destruct timer. Here's why Messenger is an appealing way to communicate with others.
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    Encryption Helps Facebook Keep Pace With Competitors
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    Encryption Helps Facebook Keep Pace With Competitors

    The addition of end-to-end encryption to private messages is a major one. Users can now hold private conversations without fearing they'll be intercepted by a third party. It also helps Facebook Messenger keep pace with Apple's iMessage, Telegram and Facebook's other messaging program, WhatsApp, which already offer the feature. Critics, however, bemoan the fact that criminals now will be able to communicate with each other more securely using the service, since law enforcement will no longer be able to get private chat records from Facebook.
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    Messages Won't Hang Around Forever
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    Messages Won't Hang Around Forever

    In addition to end-to-end encryption, Facebook has added a self-destruct feature to its private messages. With that feature, users will be able to decide how long a message will be available to its recipient. After the message reaches its time limit, it's deleted from both devices. Think of it like Snapchat for messages.
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    Messenger Works on Most Operating Systems
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    Messenger Works on Most Operating Systems

    Facebook Messenger is designed to work on just about any device. The app is available to Android, iOS and Windows users, as well as in the browser, so it works across Mac, Linux and Windows.
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    You Can Make Voice Calls Too
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    You Can Make Voice Calls Too

    Facebook offers voice calling free of charge through Messenger and provides full HD audio support. However, Facebook Messenger users will be charged for data when they're not on WiFi. Even so, it will be a nice alternative to standard voice calling on mobile devices.
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    Or Make a Video Call
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    Or Make a Video Call

    To take on services like FaceTime and Skype, Facebook Messenger offers a video-calling feature for face-to-face conversations. Video calling quality will of course depend on the data connections users have, but the experience and quality are strikingly similar to those of Apple FaceTime and Google Hangouts.
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    Annotate Photos and Videos
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    Annotate Photos and Videos

    Like any other messaging application, users can share photos and videos in Facebook Messenger. However, the app adds a little something extra by allowing users to add a drawing or text to photos sent to others. It's a nice way to make multimedia communication a bit more personal.
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    Yes, Users Will Find Stickers
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    Yes, Users Will Find Stickers

    At its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple announced support for digital stickers in iMessage. However, Facebook Messenger has offered the feature for quite some time. In a chat string, users can send a wide array of stickers to make their texts more "expressive," Facebook says. Users can send "delightful, silly, cute, [and] weird" stickers through the service.
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    Share a Location Anywhere
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    Share a Location Anywhere

    Facebook Messenger lets users share their location with others so friends can connect with each other. Users simply turn on location sharing and send a map of their location—or any location, for that matter—to a friend. It's a convenient meet-up tool.
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    Help Someone Out With Cash
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    Help Someone Out With Cash

    Facebook Messenger enables users to securely send others money. Users simply need to add their debit card to their accounts. They can then decide how much to send to a friend and confirm the payment. The recipient will have the amount immediately deposited into his or her account. The service, which is only available in the U.S., is free.
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    A Little Chatbot in Your Life
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    A Little Chatbot in Your Life

    Chatbots are one of Facebook Messenger's newest features. Designed by companies, chatbots automatically respond to queries posed to them by users. Companies offering everything from shopping advice to customer support have heavily adopted chatbots, but there are some who still question whether chatbots have what it takes to thrive over the long haul. Facebook, at least, thinks the technology has legs.
 

Facebook on July 8 announced that it is rolling out end-to-end encryption in its Facebook Messenger application. The feature will ensure that private messages sent between two people will be stored only on their devices and not on Facebook's servers as has been the standard in the past. In addition, Facebook said that its service will now offer a self-destruct timer on these "secret" messages, ensuring they disappear within a user's desired time frame. The move is part of a broader push by Facebook to expand user privacy and enhance the appeal of a messaging application that the social media company claims is used by 900 million users worldwide. It might also annoy law enforcement hoping for easier access to chat transcripts. In any event, Facebook has made its Messenger app more attractive to users. This eWEEK slide show talks about some of its features, including video support and easy access across device types, making it an appealing way to communicate with friends, family and even business associates. Read on to learn more.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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