Mark Zuckerberg lays out a future for Facebook that promises to be private
Written on the 7 March 2019 by David Simmons
In just a few short years Facebook went from one of the most popular social media platforms, beloved by millions, to one that its users no longer trust.
Though privacy issues were a problem for Facebook pre-2018 it was the Cambridge Analytica scandal that led to many vowing to ditch the social media site.
Bots, political misinformation, and non-transparent privacy settings are just some of multitude of problems with Facebook, but it looks like Zuckerberg is really starting to take this privacy thing seriously.
In a lengthy public letter published today Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg details a roadmap for the website, one where privacy is his main focus.
"As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today's open platforms," says Zuckerberg.
"Today we already see that private messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups are by far the fastest growing areas of online communication. There are a number of reasons for this. Many people prefer the intimacy of communicating one-on-one or with just a few friends. People are more cautious of having a permanent record of what they've shared. And we all expect to be able to do things like payments privately and securely."
"Public social networks will continue to be very important in people's lives -- for connecting with everyone you know, discovering new people, ideas and content, and giving people a voice more broadly. But now, with all the ways people also want to interact privately, there's also an opportunity to build a simpler platform that's focused on privacy first."
Zuckerberg knows that he and Facebook have lost public trust, but he appears to be determined to shake this reputation.
"I understand that many people don't think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform -- because frankly we don't currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we've historically focused on tools for more open sharing. But we've repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories."
Zuckerberg's future for Facebook will be built around several key tenants that he believes are the cornerstones of online privacy: private interactions, encryption, reducing permanence, safety, interoperability, and secure data storage.
WhatsApp and Instagram stories are perhaps the best example of what Facebook might start to look like. Both are already owned by Facebook and it would be easy for Zuckerberg to transplant some of these ideas more permanently onto the company's main platform.
Whether this public letter and a renewed dedication to privacy and safety for users is spin or if is the real deal will come out in the wash, but even recently the company has come under fire for not letting users opt-out from giving the company personal information like phone numbers.
These tenants will become more integral to Facebook over the next year and beyond according to Zuckerberg.
"A lot of this work is in the early stages, and we are committed to consulting with experts, advocates, industry partners, and governments -- including law enforcement and regulators -- around the world to get these decisions right," says Zuckerberg.
"I believe we should be working towards a world where people can speak privately and live freely knowing that their information will only be seen by who they want to see it and won't all stick around forever. If we can help move the world in this direction, I will be proud of the difference we've made."
You can read the rest of Zuckerberg's statement here.
Business News Australia
Author: David Simmons