Facebook To Move Towards Private Messaging

What happened in India and Myanmar shows how unsafe even private messaging services can be, because they have the potential to create social bubbles that bad actors can tap into. Sensitive data will only be stored in countries with strong human rights track records.

The Facebook CEO and co-founder posted a almost 3,300-word manifesto Wednesday, outlining a new vision for privacy on the world's biggest social platform.

"Facebook is making a courageous noise about improving user privacy, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating", James Slaby, director of cyber protection at backup and disaster recovery software firm Acronis, told SiliconANGLE.

This is the key to Zuckerberg's vision: a definition of privacy that focuses on what users post, and who sees it, rather than a more technical definition that brings in concepts like data protection, consent-based processing of personal information, and corporate uses of implied data. He expects both apps to handle the majority of communication on the Facebook network.

Additionally, Facebook is working towards making user posts short-lived i.e. messages would disappear automatically after a period of time.

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.

"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", Zuckerberg wrote.

In news which should surprise no one, Facebook is reportedly planning on implementing its own in-house payment system in the near future - which is bad news for anyone who thought Bitcoin (BTC) stood a chance of becoming the social media giant's digital currency of choice.

One of the areas Zuckerberg says Facebook will start focusing more on going forward, along with encrypted conversations, is small groups.

"Upholding this principle may mean that our services will get blocked in some countries, or that we won't be able to enter others anytime soon", he said. "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".

The emphasis of the service is not on private messaging. The widespread sharing of intimate details was encouraged and normalised by Facebook, and even gave rise to "Zuckerberg's Law" - the CEO's theory that people would share more about themselves every year - in 2008.

Also, Facebook aims to make most of its content ephemeral, content that people don't need to worry about what they share coming back to hurt them later.

The post claims to be authored by the 'Zucc himself, and it's a delightful mix of slightly confused metaphors and a revisionist narrative painting Facebook as a champion for privacy even as it acknowledges its repeated failures. This means messaging platforms on Instagram and the standalone app - Messenger is likely to get the same treatment in future.

Following that report, Facebook received some criticism and questions, such as what kind of power that would give the company. And many people I've discussed this with would do the same. "However, Facebook places all responsibility on apps to ensure that the data they send to Facebook has been collected lawfully".

Is Facebook finally giving up its plan to re-enter markets like China?

  • David Armstrong