Zuckerberg Outlines New Privacy Focus and Tools for Facebook’s Family of Apps

Author Andrew Hutchinson @adhutchinson, March 7, 2019

The future of Facebook is.. privacy?

That would appear to be the case, going by CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s latest 3,000 word blog post, in which he outlines his plans to add in more privacy-aligned features, better connecting the trends of groups and messaging into the broader Facebook experience.

As per Zuckerberg:

“Over the last 15 years, Facebook and Instagram have helped people connect with friends, communities, and interests in the digital equivalent of a town square. But people increasingly also want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room. 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. Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks.”

Among the new measures, Zuckerberg says Facebook will make the following tools a focus:

End-to-end encryption across all apps

This is interesting, because former WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum reportedly clashed with Facebook over its moves away from privacy-focused, tools like messaging encryption, – but with the more recent data scandals and concerns weighing heavy, it seems that Facebook is switching its perspective, and is now willing to further wall off its tools.

As per Zuckerberg:

“End-to-end encryption is an important tool in developing a privacy-focused social network. Encryption is decentralizing – it limits services like ours from seeing the content flowing through them and makes it much harder for anyone else to access your information. This is why encryption is an increasingly important part of our online lives, from banking to healthcare services.” 

That’s where Facebook is increasingly headed, towards creating its own online eco-system, where discovery, connection and payments, in all forms, can occur on an all-in-one network. Which is why it’s now more open to encryption, aside from the need to respond to the aforementioned privacy concerns of late.

This also likely aligns with the platform’s broader vision for Blockchain, which it’s currently developing via a dedicated business unit.

Improved tools for ephemeral messaging

Zuckerberg notes thatprivate messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups are “by far the fastest growing areas of online communication”. Catering to this, Facebook will look to “set a new standard for private communication platforms”, with content that automatically expires, or is archived over time.

“Stories already expire after 24 hours unless you archive them, and that gives people the comfort to share more naturally. This philosophy could be extended to all private content.”

That could see messages deleted after a month, or a year, by default, reducing the risk of your content resurfacing and embarrassing you at a later stage. Users would have the option to change the timeframe, or turn off auto-deletion completely, but it could provide another measure of reassurance. Facebook may also look to provide an option for users to set individual messages to expire after a few seconds or minutes.

In addition, Zuckerberg says that Facebook will look at limiting the amount of time the platform stores messaging metadata.