Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has announced a series of changes to the platform, as well as Instagram and WhatsApp. The redesign and new features for the app follow on from the rampant criticism of how Facebook protected users’ data.
Mr. Zuckerberg said the firm intends to put privacy first, and that he is committed to turning his company around. However, he also acknowledged that there would be a lot to do to rebuild trust.
During his speech to developers at the Facebook F8 keynote, Mark Zuckerberg described the company’s new focus on privacy as a “major shift” in how it is run.
A number of visible changes on the firm’s product will include:
- Messages sent through Facebook Messenger will be end-to-end encrypted by default, so Facebook itself won’t see the contents. The platform will also be fully interspersed with WhatsApp.
- Instagram are currently testing out a “private like counts” feature, which hides the “likes” on a post from viewers, but not the account owner.
- There will be more “ephemeral” way to share content in messages, which means there won’t be a permanent record of them
- A WhatsApp secure payment service tested in India will be available to other countries later this year.
- Facebook is facing a bold redesign of its app and website, which will be cleaner and less messy and more focused on community groups. Also, it’ll no longer have its distinctive blue branding or squared app icon, but be circular in design.
- Posts on Instagram will no longer be limited to photos and videos, as it’ll also be possible to share content with just text, stickers or drawings as a result of a new “create” camera mode.
“The next five years at least, maybe even the next ten years, is building out the private platforms with the richness that the public platforms have had to date,” he said. “That needs to get done with some amount of different infrastructure and different policies, and to some degree, different values, than in building out these public spaces.
Mr. Zuckerberg also added how the era of “move fast and break things” is over, to now be replaced by a more cautious approach following numerous dilemmas including so-called Russian interference, the live-streaming of murders, rapes and suicides, and of course, the seemingly never-ending issues with data privacy.
Whilst it was acknowledged that private messaging is capturing a developing share of people’s attention, it hasn’t been figured out how Facebook will make money off of that behaviour.
Since 90% of the company’s revenue comes from targeted advertising, which derives data from profiles that are linked to the information Facebook collects about users, including what they post publicly.
It was this kind of information that was valuable enough to make Facebook into one of the world’s most wealthy companies. However, this information cannot be derived from the new encrypted services Facebook is building in its private messaging, as encryption will block intruders, including Facebook itself, from reading the messages.
As a result, it will prevent targeted advertising, but Mr. Zuckerberg said he didn’t know how much profit Facebook’s new focus on encrypted messages would make, but he didn’t seem concerned about this either.
“I don’t know how good of a business it will be, but I am confident it will be good and we will be fine,” he said.
“I think people assume that a lot of the value comes from data,” he continued. “What I’ve found is, there’s certainly a reality to that, but I find that in the coverage that’s out there, people underestimate how much of the value is coming from just people’s attention.”
Facebook Dating is another feature which will roll out in 14 countries, as well as, Secret Crush, which lets you select 9 people from your friends’ list, and should the other selected person choose you, it will create an instant match. This will most definitely be more fun and less confusing than the formerly popular ‘Poke’ feature. Or will it? Secret Crush is already being ridiculed online, but let’s give it some time, right?
So, whilst there are still uncertainties about future profits, and also about tackling abuse on Facebook, since they can no longer read private the messages. All in all, Mr. Zuckerberg is confident about these changes and is confident about your user privacy.
It remains to be seen whether these Facebook changes will be enough to get people logging in again? But it’s refreshing to see some much needed alterations to the social media platform, after having been through so much in the last couple of years.
Story by Emily Clark
Featured Photo Credit: AP