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Ultimate Guide to Facebook Messenger and Secure Chat

Facebook Messenger lets you chat, play games, pay friends, make video calls, and more. Get the latest Messenger updates and see 3 secure alternatives.

Apps in this Guide

Facebook Messenger launched in 2011 as a standalone messaging app for Facebook users on iOS and Android. In 2014 Facebook removedmore

Facebook Messenger launched in 2011 as a standalone messaging app for Facebook users on iOS and Android. In 2014 Facebook removed messaging from the main Facebook app, forcing mobile users to download Messenger if they wanted to keep sending messages.

A year later, the company started bolstering the Messenger download with added features, such as peer-to-peer payments, video calling, and business communications, including the ability to book an Uber. In 2016, Messenger added group calling, chatbots, and Secret Conversations, which promise end-to-end encryption.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's a Secret Conversation, and how do I activate this feature?
A Secret Conversation is a private chat that is encrypted end to end. To start a Secret Conversation, tap the compose button on the top right of the screen (iPhone) or the plus sign on the bottom right (Android). Tap the Secret Conversation button, then select which friend to contact (no group chats allowed) and enter your message.
What is M?
Facebook's own free, Messenger-based personal assistant, named after James Bond's boss. Activate M by composing a new message and typing M in your To: field.

Secure Alternatives to Messenger

Messenger has exceeded 1 billion monthly active users, making it second only to Facebook-owned WhatsApp. But Messenger was late to the privacy party, only recently rolling out Secret Conversations, while lesser-known competitors had already honed their security tools, such as end-to-end encryption, the ability to conceal yourself and your activities, and deleting messages. Here are our picks for secure messaging alternatives.

Telegram

Telegram

With Telegram's Secret Chat, your messages, photos, videos, and files are sent over an encrypted connection that automatically self-destructs from participating devices after receipt and cannot be forwarded. Under Settings, then Privacy and Security, you can set your Last Seen to Nobody for maximum privacy, set a Passcode Lock for when the app times out, and set up Two-Step Verification for each logon from a new device. Telegram promises never to give third parties access to your data.

Wickr Me

Wickr Me

Wickr Me promises that all of your communications -- audio, video, voice, and text -- are end-to-end encrypted and no metadata is kept. When you delete a message, or if it's time limited, when you set it to expire, the Secure Shredder ensures that it's irrecoverable. You can enable a password after periods of inactivity lasting from 5 seconds to a day. The unique Audio Playback setting requires a headset, so no one around you can listen in.

Signal

Signal

Message over Signal and trust that all communications are encrypted from end to end and no data is saved. To ensure that no one takes screenshots of your messages, go to Settings, Privacy, then Enable Screen Security. There you may also tap Clear History Logs every once in a while to delete your message, attachment, and call history. If you don't believe Signal, the app's source code is available at GitHub for independent verification.

Latest Versions of Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger

Message, video chat, pay friends, and even book an Uber.