Disappearing Messages (End-to-End Encryption) – What Parents Need To Know

“Facebook’s plan to roll out encryption across its messaging services could jeopardize ongoing work to combat child abuse…” – Home Security


Facebook claims that moving toward complete end-to-end encryption is for the purpose of protecting their users’ privacy. Learn the dangers of disappearing messages and what it means for you and your child.


What is end-to-end encryption? What end-to-end encryption does is encrypt messages so only the sender and intended recipient see the message. Most of these types of messages also disappear after a set amount of time.


What does this mean for Internet safety? Facebook security teams that monitor content for criminal activity, especially child exploitation, will no longer have access to these messages, thus decreasing the number of notifications to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


Why is this important? As a retired investigator working Internet Crimes Against Children, I developed many cases inside of Facebook as a 13-year-old girl being approached by adult online predators. I was invited into Facebook groups that were designed specifically for adults who had a sexual interest in children with names such as “Older for Younger.” Once inside the group, I was approached through messages from adults from around the world. I would receive private messages that included self-produced naked images, pornographic screenshots, and received links to pornographic videos that sometimes involved violent sex acts. These messages were attainable for the evidentiary purpose to locate and charge these predators through Facebook with the execution of legal documents. Once end-to-end encryption is put into place and your child is approached by an online predator, you as the parent won’t see these conversations, and developing evidence for law enforcement to identify and prosecute them will be extremely difficult – if not impossible.


What can you do? Continue to learn more about end-to-end encryption and stay up to date not only with Facebook moving forward, but other platforms your children may be using.


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The mission of the Safe Surfin’ Foundation is not only to protect youth from those who would do them harm, but pro-actively educating them in the safe and responsible use of today’s ever-changing technology. Together, we’re improving and saving lives. Help us continue educating kids online by donating today.