Facebook is wrong. Completely.
End-to-end encryption means that Facebook doesn’t have access to the content of messages. Right now, ONLY Facebook can read your private message content, but that will change. (Actually, that’s not true – your employer can too, and that won’t change, but it’s beside the point)
Given Facebook’s entire business model is collecting and selling personal data on its users, this might sound strange. You can bet it’s nothing to do with making the world a safe place for political activists in repressive countries. Such countries can simply block Facebook.
But there are three reasons they may wish to do this:
- Right now law enforcement can ask Facebook for data. If Facebook refuses, there can be a stink. If it hands it over, there can be a stink. If Facebook can shrug its shoulders and say “can’t be done”, it’s off the hook. Apple has done this.
- If Facebook’s system is insecure, someone may steal personal data from it in the future, leading to embarrassment and GDPR complications. If it’s encrypted while at Facebook, this cannot happen.
- Hard core criminals know all about how to use encryption. Facebook is used for recruiting. If Facebook has to face the music for this, with end-to-end encryption they have plausible deniability.
It’s worth noting that political activists have well established secure communication channels too. Paedophile networks have the knowledge to do this, and do. There are plenty of “dark web” options to keep things secret.
So far from protecting the public, the only reason Facebook has to do this is to protect itself.