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article imageOp-Ed: Facebook, the future, and Zuckerberg’s new privacy moves

By Paul Wallis     Mar 7, 2019 in Internet
Menlo Park - Mark Zuckerberg is trying hard to reinvent Facebook as something that's not an instant target for regulators, privacy advocates, hackers, and the rest of the world. In a new blog, he defines ideas and initiatives to finally solve the problems.
It’s not likely to be an easy task. Facebook has the unenviable reputation of being the primary target for everything that is wrong with social media. Add to this the rather strange situation whereby Facebook is supposed to be able to predict and prevent every new online horror story before it happens, and you see the problem.
Zuckerberg makes quite a few good points, which he distilled into goals for the social network:
- Creating private spaces for communications using end to end encryption and other technologies.
- A clear distinction between public and private spaces online.
- Better security for Messenger and WhatsApp, which Zuckerberg sees as the likely future of internal communications on the various Facebook platforms.
- Trying to deal with what Zuckerberg calls "unlawful" demands for information by governments and regulators.
- Proper focus on things like terrorism, extortion, child exploitation, and the rest of the hideous lexicon of online miseries.
I'm not about to regurgitate Zuckerberg’s pretty adequate blog in any depth. You can read the full text of the blog here on TechCrunch.
Facts versus expectations
For a long time now, Facebook and Zuckerberg have been expected to act as enforcers on what is arguably the biggest, broadest-based online shooting gallery in the world. The major problem is that many of the advocates don't seem to understand the practical issues involved in managing all these problems.
Social media sites are afflicted with some of the most disgusting manifestations of human stupidity every second. When there are hundreds of millions of users, and a gigantic data load to manage, moderation is incredibly difficult to manage. Add to this political bleatings, usually decades after the fact, and a trail of thousands of horrible incidents, including suicides, blackmail, bullying, and more.
Zuckerberg may be being polite about his critics, but the major point here is to get everybody on the same page as to what needs to happen, how it happens, and how people can be protected. Ironically, many of the critics are simply making a bad situation worse. They are effectively acting as publicists for the hackers, bullies, criminals, et cetera. After all, tell somebody that they can make some money or have some fun making life a misery for other people, and what's likely to happen?
The expectations of social media sites and their ability to protect people have always been way ahead of their capabilities. Does anyone really think that Facebook has instant access to the very latest scams, etc and can instantly shut them down before they start? The damage is only actionable after it’s visible.
SSL for social media?
SSL stands for secure socket layer, and is commonly used by financial institutions to make transactions virtually unbreakable. This is three levels of encryption, which can only be assembled at the other end. That's what Zuckerberg means by end to end encryption, at least in one form. That may not be practical in the gigantic sites like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, but something like it, or a sawn off version of it, could well be possible.
A truly ugly culture
The overriding thousand tonne gorilla problem is the truly repulsive culture online. The original idea of the Internet was to plug in the world. Unfortunately, the result was to also plug in all the idiots. This is one of the major reasons why the world's greatest ever form of mass communication has been totally sabotaged.
This aspirational new level of protection really does define the scale of the problems and the people causing them. Consider for a moment if you will the situation whereby the world has to be protected from raving terrorists, nutcases, paid political trolls and criminals on a second by second basis. It's not a great look.
Society is based on communication. If communication is corrupted, the society itself is directly affected. We can see the effects. There is nothing good or forgivable about this situation. Too many people have been hurt.
It would be nice if the world's geriatric politicians, mindless influencers, "thought leaders" (that's leadership?), anti-corporate cliché factories, and the rest of the ponderous online sages got their mint condition, unused and overloaded backsides in gear for once, and added some constructive suggestions. Regulators, for example, seem to forget why they are regulating. Critics obviously know how to criticise, but apparently have no idea how to solve problems.
Or to put it a little less delicately – Shut up, start finding solutions, and work together. Above all, work with Zuckerberg’s new privacy moves, and try to make them achieve their goals. You can all pin medals on yourselves afterwards.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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