Meta AI messages on Instagram do not appear to be encrypted

Before you pour your heart out to Billie, your ride-or-die big sister played by Kendall Jenner, or an AI grandpa named Brian on Instagram, know that your messages may not be private.

Meta AI Characters, now live in beta, are a collection of characters – some played by celebrities and creators – that users can chat with on Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. However, it appears that messages with these characters are not encrypted on Instagram.

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After chatting with the meta AI characters, we have more questions than answers

With end-to-end encryption turned off, the option to start an AI chat will appear.
Credit: Screenshot: Mashable / Meta

Instagram messages with end-to-end encryption turned on showing the option to start an AI chat are gone.

With end-to-end encryption turned off, this option no longer exists.
Credit: Screenshot: Mashable / Meta

In the Messages tab on Instagram, there’s a switch at the top that lets you turn on end-to-end encryption, which protects your messages from prying eyes, including meta and the government. But when this feature is turned on, the option to start an AI chat disappears. If you click the info button (circled “i” icon) in the chat, the “Use end-to-end encryption” option will be grayed out. When you click it, a window pops up saying “some people still can’t use end-to-end encryption”. It then states that you “can’t add them” – meaning the AI ​​character – to the chat. You literally don’t have the option to chat with one of these characters via end-to-end encryption on Instagram.

Instagram screen shows a window saying that end-to-end encryption is not yet available in AI chat

This window appears to confirm that the meta-encrypted AI messages are not end-to-end.
Credit: Screenshot: Mashable / Meta

One of the biggest privacy concerns with the rise of generative AI is the massive amount of data that is being collected – both to train the model and to give companies detailed information about their users. Meta currently has a bad reputation for using personal data. There was the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal, the cases where Facebook turned over private conversations to law enforcement, and the way its algorithms used personal data and behavior to make its platforms addictive (and in some cases harmful). Past examples show that Meta — or any social media company, for that matter — shouldn’t trust your data.

When you first try the AI ​​messages feature on WhatsApp, you’re immediately presented with a disclaimer popup that says, “Meta may use your AI messages to improve the quality of the AI. But your personal messages will never Not sent to meta. They can’t be sent. Read and encrypt end-to-end.”

WhatsApp's page displays a disclaimer about what data Meta uses and that messages are end-to-end encrypted.

The disclaimer on WhatsApp says that the messages are encrypted but not yet verified.
Credit: Screenshot: Mashable / Meta

This indicates that while certain information about your messages is accessible by AI (still not great for privacy), the content of the messages is private. But that hasn’t been confirmed, especially given Meta’s vague AI privacy policy, which says: “When you chat with the AI, Meta may learn from the messages you send it to train the model. use artificial intelligence and help improve artificial intelligence.”

Mashable has reached out to Meta to confirm that AI messages on Instagram are not encrypted, and to determine whether WhatsApp and Messenger messages are. While we had no news prior to publication, we will update this story if Meta responds.

Last spring, OpenAI launched an opt-out feature for ChatGPT that allows users to opt out of having their data used for Model Train. However, other AI chatbots such as Google Bard and Microsoft Bing do not have such opt-out features, although there is the ability to delete your activity. On the Meta AI privacy policy page, there is a similar option to delete your data. You can do this by typing: /reset-ai to delete data from a single AI chat and typing: /reset-all-ais to delete data from all chats in Meta apps.

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