Mark Zuckerberg's recent announcement about making Facebook a private and encrypted communication channel revealed the new direction he aims set out on.
If you're skeptical of all this, don't worry.
"So we won't keep messages or stories around for longer than necessary to deliver the service or longer than people want them". In fact, Facebook is following a long corporate tradition of about-face rebranding efforts. The SDK integrates with apps to provide features like analytics or letting users log in with Facebook. For example, a Messenger user would be able to send an encrypted message to a WhatsApp user. "Facebook's commitment to privacy is only slightly less credible than Lockheed Martin's commitment to world peace", one user wrote on Twitter.
To recall, in April 2018, Zuckerberg spoke at the US Congress, where he was forced to reassure US lawmakers that his social network would be more careful with the personal information of users. But, this may help the company mend its image in today's environment when users are trusting very few establishments with their data.
In short, he's offering privacy on Facebook, but not necessarily privacy from Facebook.
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Zuckerberg said he believes that the future of internet and communication services will increasingly move to encrypted and private tools, where messages only last for a limited amount of time. He covers everything from encryption to data storage to user safety.
After being involved in many data breaches and privacy debacles, Zuckerberg said he aims to build Facebook into a private service which is more secure, like WhatsApp, which has end-to-end encryption.
Zuckerberg also said he envisions "interoperability", where users across Facebook's suite of messaging apps (Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram's Direct) can reach their friends using whichever app they prefer. That is, having pulled people into something that he believes is the equivalent of a "digital public square" he wants Facebook to build a more privacy-focused social platform centered on the equivalent of "digital living rooms" where people share more intimately with each other. For a start, there's a lot of emphasis on the need for end-to-end encryption in what Zuckerberg is preaching here and that's anathema to a lot of governments and security services.
People want to be able to choose which service they use to communicate with people.
Zuckerberg continued, "As we build our infrastructure around the world, we've chosen not to build data centres in countries that have a track record of violating human rights like privacy or freedom of expression". So while protecting private conversations is a good thing in and of itself, it doesn't appear that anything else fundamental about Facebook will really be changing. "I wanted to create an environment where people could share whatever information they wanted, but also have control over whom they shared that information with".
"Facebook has minted money because it has figured out how to commoditize privacy on a scale never before seen". Spotify, Skyscanner and Kayak updated their apps so that they don't connect with the social media site when opened, according to Privacy International's report.