The expired Patriot Act was replaced by the lighter and softer USA Freedom Act this week and while the government now can’t collect your phone calls, the internet still isn’t safe from prying eyes. When it comes to protecting your private information, at least Facebook has your back.
Facebook announced Monday that it will allow for users to opt for encrypted PGP (“Pretty Good Privacy”) in their privacy settings. Some of the less savvy among us may be wondering "What is PGP?"
The way PGP works is users will have a public key and a private key. Don't run to the locksmith just yet, the "keys" are actually just long strings of numbers. Users give the public key to Facebook and hold on to the private key. Facebook’s new feature allows users to add their public keys to their profiles in the “contact and basic info” subheading under “about.” Facebook will then run all email communications through the public key, scrambling it, and when it reaches its destination safely, the private key will unscramble it. To anyone without the private key the emails will look like gibberish, ensuring only you read your Facebook messages, password-resets and notification emails.
Facebook adds PGP support. This is pretty amazing really. https://t.co/6h4R11dku7— Doug Winter (@winjer) June 1, 2015
PGP'd email from Facebook. Truly the times they are a'changing— Martin Löwdin (@mlowdi) June 1, 2015
Facebook have just announced support for PGP for email from them to you!! Very cool!— Biddy (@ShoutyBiddy) June 3, 2015
“It’s very important to us that people who use Facebook feel safe and can trust that their connection to Facebook is secure,” said a post from Facebook.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has made steps to ensure user privacy. Last year Facebook announced the launch of a .onion address to allow Tor users to connect to Facebook through the Tor browser which automatically conceals users’ IP addresses.
“Whilst Facebook seeks to secure connections to your email providers with TLS, the stored content of those messages may be accessible as plaintext to anyone who access your email provider or email account,” said Facebook.
To learn more about PGP installation and Facebook’s implementation go to Facebook’s announcement.