Using a VPN with Facebook Messenger

3 min
Woman holding iPhone with Facebook Messenger app open

Messenger is one of the most widely known services of the Facebook owner, the Meta Platforms, and also one of the most successful. It has always been close to the biggest social medium on the planet, originally called simply Facebook Chat. One could list its advantages on and on, but nothing is omnipotent and flawless. VPN technology can be of use for Messenger, too.

What the Messenger can and can’t do

The Messenger can, obviously, provide communication. Starting with just sending SMS-like messages to Facebook friends, many more features were devised, tested, added and sometimes discontinued. When everybody liked emoticons 🙂 – why not include emoji 😀? Over the years, everyone’s Internet links steadily grew faster. Messenger gladly exploited that with file sending, GIFs, voice calls, and video conferences. Bots were introduced, and they get smarter every day along with AI technologies. Mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone are in continual development in parallel to the web interface.

Still, the Messenger remains an online service, requiring an unrestricted Internet connection. Restrictions might be technical, as simple as poor mobile network reception or trouble at your Internet Service Provider. Or you’re using an obsolete, low-capacity, or overloaded device. None of these are the Messenger’s responsibility. But the limits imposed upon your Web link aren’t only technical.

Facebook Messenger on a VPN

There are many online entities out there who monitor everything they can. ISPs, Google, advertisers, the governments… It could seem that an ordinary netizen just needs to accept his online actions won’t be private. But still, we know about encryption. It protects private messages, like emails. That’s also the point of SSL/TLS technology on the Web. What’s really hidden, then?

In simple words, the contents can be hidden, but the addresses can’t. Your transfer is directed to remote servers hosting the websites. Their addresses must remain visible for all the midpoints, just like your house address must be known to the post office, even when the carried letter remains secret. If anybody attempts to communicate with Messenger servers where it isn’t allowed, it can get blocked fairly easily because encryption doesn’t apply to IP addresses and domain names. An additional trusted and independent party would be needed to deliver that communication in total secrecy. And that brings us to the VPN.

VPN encloses everything in a solid tunnel

That’s a metaphor, but it describes the reality of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) quite well. A real tunnel has two entrances. Inside it, two-way inside transit can go ahead freely. Whoever controls the endpoints, controls the transit. Nobody from the outside can peek into or influence anything inside. Now, with the VPN system, one of the endpoints is an app on the user’s device. The other is the VPN server. The rock-solid protection of the tunnel is the encryption applied to all the data within it.

That’s roughly how a commercial VPN service works when correctly implemented and leak-free. The interesting part is that it’s virtual. It means that it uses the usual connections of the Internet. And yet, after establishing that tunnel connection, no third party can look inside, regardless of how much authority it has. There are methods to recognize that there is a VPN in use, but there is no way to learn what exactly it is used for.

Facebook Messenger with VPN

After connecting through the VPN tunnel, all of your data transfers enter the tunnel first and travel to the VPN server. It decrypts the data and directs it to the real destinations, where the VPN protection doesn’t apply anymore. So, you can use this technology to cloak your activity on Facebook Messenger from anyone on the path from you to the server. That can be a considerable distance since there are so many servers to choose from. TuxlerVPN, for example, offers several thousand of them.

Still, the fact that you’re using Messenger will be less protected on the farther part of the path. And the messages themselves are not secret from Facebook by default. That was an inconvenience Meta struggled to fix for years. Nowadays, the mobile Messenger app has optional end-to-end encryption, which means better secrecy for your texts. When you switch it on, only you and the receiver are able to read anything you type.

Lastly, a disclaimer. Remember that you always use a VPN on your own responsibility. A legitimate system used to cover any illicit activity might look suspicious. Use the Web reasonably and when in doubt, first learn what is forbidden and why. VPN is worth trying out for the sake of online privacy and security!

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