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WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger will soon talk to other messaging apps in Europe

Meta says third-party messaging apps will have to adopt approved end-to-end encryption protocols in Europe.
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Published onMarch 7, 2024

Holding smartphone with WhatsApp logo on the screen Stock photo
TL;DR
  • Meta is enabling interoperability for WhatsApp and Messenger.
  • The two messaging platforms will be able to work with third-party messaging apps, provided they meet Meta’s security requirements.

Big tech companies are getting their ducks in a row to comply with Europe’s Digital Markets Act. The new competition rules came into effect on March 6, following which the likes of Google and Meta have announced how they plan to comply and what’s changing for end users.

According to Meta, WhatsApp and Messenger will now become interoperable with third-party messaging apps in Europe. Thanks to the change, Meta’s messaging apps will soon be able to send and receive messages from other messaging apps that enable interoperability.

“In year one, the requirement is for 1:1 text messaging between individual users and the sharing of images, voice messages, videos, and other attached files between individual end users. In the future, requirements expand to group functionality and calling,” said Meta.

However, there’s a catch. WhatsApp and Messenger will only be able to work with other messaging apps that adopt the Signal protocol for end-to-end encryption. This is something both of Meta’s messaging platforms are already using.

“In order to maximize user security, we would prefer third-party providers to use the Signal Protocol. Since this has to work for everyone, however, we will allow third-party providers to use a compatible protocol if they are able to demonstrate it offers the same security guarantees as Signal,” the company said.

When sharing messages that contain images, videos, or other media, Meta says third-party messaging platforms will be responsible for hosting the files sent by their users to WhatsApp or Messenger users.

“After receiving a media message, Meta clients will subsequently download the encrypted media from the third-party messaging servers using a Meta proxy service,” the company explained.

That said, Meta warned that it cannot guarantee what a third-party messaging provider does with sent or received messages despite requiring it to enable end-to-end encryption.

“Users need to know that our security and privacy promise, as well as the feature set, won’t exactly match what we offer in WhatsApp chats.”

As of now, the company hasn’t announced just which messaging apps will be eligible to become interoperable with WhatsApp and Messenger in Europe.

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