A cybersecurity expert is leading calls for Facebook users to dump its Messenger app after the tech giant confirmed significant delays to to enhancements its own executives have labelled as “essential”.
Zak Doffman, who has previously warned users to quit Facebook Messenger for alternatives, has this week outlined three reasons why the instant messaging platform should be replaced.
The first is an opinion piece written by senior Facebook exec Will Cathcart and published recently in Wired.
In the article, Cathcart pushes to prioritise end-to-end encryption – which is the process of converting data into a code so that it can prevent unauthorised access.
“The lessons of the past five years make it absolutely clear that technology companies and governments must prioritise private and secure communication,” Cathcart said in the piece.
He adds that encryption is “essential” amid “serious pressure to take it away,” and that encryption “should not be taken for granted.”
Doffman called out Facebook – most recently this week in Forbes – for a lack of encryption, as well as serious issues with the handling of private data and Facebook’s admission that it spies on your Messenger conversations.
“End-to-end encryption is now the way most messages are sent globally,” Cathcart points out in his opinion piece for Wired.
“Technical as encryption can be, it is really about something at the very core of how we live our lives today: Should people be able to have a private conversation when they are not together in person?”
The 1.3 billion users of Facebook Messenger aren’t afforded the same end-to-end encryption as WhatsApp, meaning they don’t have private and secure communication.
The second reason Doffman is again calling for users to switch to a Facebook Messenger alternative is the admission – by Facebook – that it will not be able to deliver these “essential” security enhancements until 2022 at the earliest.
“Encrypting Messenger has taken significantly longer and it has been much more complex than envisaged,” Doffman said.
He claims to have been told by a Facebook spokesperson that:
“While we will continue to make progress on our move to end-to-end [Messenger] encryption, it’s a big technical project and all of our messaging services won’t be fully end-to-end encrypted until sometime in 2022 at the earliest.”
Cybersecurity expert Jake Moore told Forbes that “any platform not yet secured with this layer of protection must be treated with caution.”
“It is well documented that non-encrypted forms of communication can be surveilled by law enforcement, app owners and even some third parties, so it is important to treat such apps with care and not to be used for private communication or to transfer sensitive data,” he added.
Facebook data handling issues
The third issue that Doffman highlights as a reason to remove Messenger from your list of instant messaging apps is Facebook’s growing list of mishandling data.
Earlier in April, the personal data of more than 533 million Facebook users was found available on an online hacking forum.
The data from over 106 countries includes user phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, and in some cases, email addresses, Business Insider reported.
“Facebook has been heavily criticised for playing down the seriousness of this data exposure and for not informing all of those impacted users,” Doffman wrote in Forbes.
“The issue wasn’t so much the data exposure this time, but rather the response.”
“It’s a welcome reminder that Facebook is a data machine, and the safest way to secure your private information is not to give it up in the first place.”