The head of Facebook Messenger has explained why messages sent through the app are not encrypted by default in the same way that WhatsApp does.
Both messaging services are owned by Facebook but have very different takes on end-to-end encryption, the controversial mechanism which secures anything sent between people and makes it impossible for anyone to intercept.
WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption by default and users are unable to turn it off, while the Facebook Messenger app can only do this when the user chooses the Secret Conversation mode within each chat.
Head of product Stan Chudnovsky claims additional features used on the Messenger app, such as in-app translation and bots, make it tricky for end-to-end encryption to be added by default.
“These types of experiences are very, very popular and growing really, fast and in an end-to-end environment it’s a completely different story and we would lose all of that,” he explained.
Mr Chudnovsky, who took over at the helm of Messenger in May, said the issues surrounding encryption are “complicated” and there is “no simple answer” to how the social network deals with helping authorities when they request information.
The former PayPal vice president explained Facebook has to cater to “different people in different countries”, comparing it to how the UK’s acceptance of CCTV wouldn’t work in Germany.
“It’s just different people and different circumstances come up with different answers and we are thinking about it this way as well,” Mr Chudnovsky said.
“We need to figure out what is the right way to be able to answer all the questions that different governments and different people are asking us, but also what are the best ways to protect people’s privacy and security and how that whole thing comes together.”
The company is currently focusing on bringing more businesses on board Facebook Messenger, with the likes of Just Eat and Lego among the 300,000 bots intended to make communication with users more personal and conversational.