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article imageA shift in Facebook's ethos? The 'future is now private'

By Tim Sandle     Apr 30, 2019 in Technology
Facebook has spent the past decade connecting people together, partly to collect data and sell it to advertisers. Following a backlash that began in 2018, Zuckerberg now says the future of his company is all about privacy.
By uttering the phrase “the future is private,” which may become the new Facebook mantra, Mark Zuckerberg is attempting to re-position Facebook as the safe online space where user data protected. Zuckerberg made his statement at April 2019's Facebook’s F8 developer conference.
Quoted by The Verge, Zuckerberg expanded on his vision by continuing: "Over time, I believe that a private social platform will be even more important to our lives than our digital town squares."
In putting aside the old model, the social media entrepreneur said: "So today, we’re going to start talking about what this could look like as a product, what it means to have your social experience be more intimate, and how we need to change the way we run this company in order to build this.”
As to what might this future Facebook look like, the company has already indicated it will begin to re-orientate its focus away from public posts and towards encrypted communications across its messaging apps. Zuckerberg himself has said there is a shift towards "private messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups", which "are by far the fastest growing areas of online communication."
Adding to this, Facebook has indicated that encryption will be central to Facebook’s future and it will begin to promote this level of security and data privacy — and may even refuse to offer services to countries that will not allow encrypted messaging to take place.
Facebook is also launching a redesign and, aside from an attempt to freshen up the look and feel of the social media site, there is greater prominence being paid to Facebook groups (some of which will be allowed to put into place a paid membership scheme) and social events. The reason for focusing on groups is in recognition of a tendency where many people appear to be shying away from posting things publicly and instead are seeking more intimate ways to connect with friends and family.
There are also plans to move Messenger away from the news feed, as part of placing greater emphasis upon private interactions between user selected 'Facebook friends'. The revisions to the Messenger app will include a tab dedicated to friends, plus any “stories” that trusted people post to Facebook. This is another nod towards more private forms of communication.
Zuckerberg thinks the look, feel and direction of the redesigned Facebook is sufficiently different, so he's calling this the fifth incarnation of Facebook, or "FB 5".
Some of these ideas are an attempt to restore public relations after the various data-related Facebook scandals that have occurred over the past twelve months (as covered by Digital Journal). Another aspect is to try to gain the trust of younger people, significant numbers of whom who have either deserted Facebook or who have not signed up with the service in the first place (although many of this cohort are happy to join other Facebook products like Instagram and WhatsApp).
More about Zuckerberg, Facebook, Data privacy, Data
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