Meta's AI messages on Instagram don't seem to be encrypted

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Before you send your most intimate thoughts to Billie (Kendall Jenner’s “ride-or-die” older sister) or Brian, an AI grandfather on Instagram, be aware that your message might not remain private.

Meta AI personas are now available in beta. They’re a group of characters, some played by celebrities or creators, that users can talk to on Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Messages with these characters are not encrypted end-to-end on Instagram.

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After chatting with Meta’s AI personas, we have more questions than solutions
With end-to-end encryption off, the option to start an AI chat appears.

Credit: Screenshot: Mashable / Meta
With end-to-end encryption turned off, the option is no longer there. The toggle for end-to-end encrypted messages is located at the top of the Instagram messages tab. When this feature is enabled, the option to launch an AI chat will disappear. When you click the info button (the circle “i”) within the chat window, the option to use end-to-end encrypted is greyed out. A window appears when you click it. It says, “Some people cannot use end-toend encryption yet.” You can’t have a conversation with one of these personas via end-to-end encryption on Instagram. You literally don’t have the option to have a conversation with one of these personas via end-to-end encryption on Instagram.

Instagram messages with end-to-end encryption turned on showing the option to start an AI chat has disappeared

This window seems to confirm that Meta’s AI messages are not end-to-end encrypted.
Credit: Screenshot: Mashable / Meta

One of the major privacy concerns with the rise of generative AI is the massive amount of data that is collected — both to train the model and to give companies granular insights about their users. Meta has a poor reputation when it comes to the use of personal data. Meta, or any social media company, to be fair, shouldn’t be trusted with your data. Meta, or any other social media company for that matter, shouldn’t be trusted to handle your data. Your personal messages will never be sent to Meta. The messages are end-to-end encoded and cannot be read. The disclaimer in WhatsApp claims that messages are encrypted end-to-end, but this hasn’t been confirmed.

Instagram screen showing a window that says end-to-end encryption is not yet available in the AI chat

Credit Screenshot: Meta
This indicates that while AI can access certain information about the messages you send (still not good for privacy), their content is private. This is not confirmed, particularly given Meta’s vague privacy policy for generative AI. It states, “When you talk to AI, Meta might use the messages that you send it to train the AI models, making the AIs even better.”

Mashable contacted Meta to confirm that AI messaging on Instagram is not end-toend encrypted and to clarify if the messages on WhatsApp and Messenger are. While we did not hear back before publication time, we’ll update this story if Meta responds.

Last spring, OpenAI launched an opt-out feature for ChatGPT, which gives users the option of blocking their data from being used to the train the model. Other AI chatbots, like Google Bard or Microsoft Bing, do not have opt-out options, but you can delete your data. Meta’s privacy page for generative AI has a similar option. Type /reset to remove all data from an AI chat, and /resetall to remove data across all Meta apps.

WhatsApp screen showing a disclaimer about what data Meta uses and that messages are end-to-end encrypted.