How Facebook Secret Conversations Work

Here's how you can send encrypted messages on FB messenger

Two childeren are using paper cups as a telephone.

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The Facebook Messenger app allows you to create a secret conversation by sending a private message to one person with an encrypted message. Facebook says the encryption protects the message so that it is not even accessible by Facebook. You can also put an expiration on your message so that the message will self-destruct and disappear in the time frame you specify.

While Facebook secret conversations are encrypted, the other person could still share your conversation with others by sharing their phone with someone else, or by taking a screenshot of your conversation.

All Facebook secret conversations you receive will appear in your message list with a padlock icon beside the contact's profile icon.

If you start a Facebook secret conversation with someone who is not a Facebook friend, Facebook will either send your secret message to the other person's Message Requests, or if Facebook does not think you know this person, the secret conversation will appear in Filtered Messages, like spam. The messages will not be deleted and can be found in the Facebook hidden mailbox.

Limitations to Facebook Secret Conversations

Facebook secret conversations can include pictures, videos, and voice recordings. Designed for one-to-one conversations, they do not support group conversations, voice and video calls, and you cannot use secret conversations to send payments. Secret conversations are so secret, that they do not appear on your Facebook Chat history. You can only hold a Facebook secret conversation in the Facebook Messenger app on either Android and iOS.

How To Turn Facebook Secret Conversations On

Before you can have a secret conversation using Facebook Messenger, you will need to make sure the secret conversation feature is turned on in your device.

Turn On Secret Conversations in Android

  1. Open Facebook Messenger.

  2. Tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner.

  3. On the Me page, scroll down to Secret Conversations and make sure it’s turned on.

Turn On Secret Conversations in iOS

  1. From the home screen of Facebook Messenger, tap your profile picture on the top left corner of the screen.

  2. Scroll down the next page to the Preferences section. Tap Secret Conversations to open the section.

    The location of Secret Conversation in Facebook for iOS.
  3. Turn the toggle switch to on, green.

Start a Secret Conversation on Your Smartphone or Tablet

You can only create a Facebook Messenger secret conversation by using the Messenger app. The process is slightly different, depending upon whether you are using Android or iOS. The instructions for both are below.

Start a Secret Conversation in Android

  1. Start a conversation by tapping the pencil icon in the top right of the screen.

    Screenshot of Android phone with pencil icon to start a conversation in Messenger.
  2. Before selecting the person, slide the lock icon in the upper right corner of the screen to the lock position.

    Android phone screenshot showing the lock icon to start a conversation.
  3. Tap the icon of the person you would like to send the secret message.

  4. At the bottom of the compose message, tap the clock icon to set a time limit for the message, or continue typing your message without setting the timer. The time before the message disappears could be seconds, minutes, hours or days.

    Screenshot of Android app showing how to set a timer for a message.

    When activated, a timer appears on the recipient's message on the right side, counting down the time left before the message disappears for good.

  5. Start typing your message. Tap the Arrow to the right of the message screen to send your message.

Start a Secret Conversation in iOS

  1. Open the Facebook Messenger app, and tap the New Message icon on the top right of the screen.

    How to start a secret conversation on Facebook Messenger for iOS app.
  2. Tap Secret on the top right.

    Screenshot of Facebook Messenger app with secret conversation option.
  3. Tap the contact icon of the person you want to share a secret conversation with.

  4. If you want your message to have a set time to expire, tap the clock icon in the bottom of the screen and choose an expiration time — seconds, minutes, hours or days.

    Screenshot showing how to set an expiration time for a Secret Conversation

    If you select an expiration time, the recipient will see a time icon to count down the time before a message disappears.

  5. Finish typing and send your message.

On the recipient's device, your message will appear in black, rather than blue, with the words, "Encrypted from one device to the other."

Verifying Facebook Secret Conversations

All Facebook secret conversations are encrypted. Facebook also gives you the option to verify the end-to-end encryption by comparing device keys. Both parties in the conversation will receive device keys, which you can compare to ensure they match. Here's how:

  1. Open a secret conversation.

  2. Tap the contact's name at the top.

  3. Tap Your Keys.

Compare the device key that appears under the contact's name with the keys on the that contact's device to make sure they match. You can compare devices in person, or through a screenshot that you can share vi text messages or another mobile messaging app.

Access Your Secret Conversations On Multiple Devices

Secret conversations cannot be accessed on any devices other than the one the conversation is created on. You can add another device to send a Facebook secret message, but any previous messages will not appear on the new device. To add a new device, sign into Facebook Messenger. Once you've added the new device, you'll see only new messages in existing secret conversations on all devices. The other person will receive a notification to let them know you're on a new device.

Delete Facebook Secret Conversations

You can delete all your Facebook secret conversations on your devices, but you cannot delete these secret conversations on the other person's device.

Delete Facebook Secret Conversations on Android

  1. Open Messenger and tap your profile picture in the top right corner.

  2. Scroll down and tap Secret Conversations.

  3. Tap Delete All Secret Conversations.

    The location of Delete all secret conversation on the Facebook Messenger for Android app.
  4. Tap Delete.

Delete Facebook Secret Conversations on iOS

  1. From Chats, tap your profile picture in the top left corner.

  2. Scroll down and tap Secret Conversations.

  3. Tap Delete Secret Conversations.

  4. Tap Delete.