The most important things to know about Mark Zuckerberg's 3,200-word plan to refocus Facebook on privacy
- On Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg published a 3,200 word Facebook post explaining his intentions to make the social network more "privacy-focused."
- Zuckerberg said he believes that the future of internet and communication services will increasingly move to encrypted and private tools, where messages only last for a limited amount of time. He thinks a privacy-first platform will, over time, become more important than today's open settings. "Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks," he said.
Beyond the technical requirements needed to ensure more private conversations, Zuckerberg said his team will need to focus on features that provide a sense of closeness, like how in WhatsApp today the number of people in groups is limited. He says Facebook's products can often feel "more like a town square than a more intimate space like a living room."
Facebook will work toward end-to-end encryption for all private communications, Zuckerberg said, but the decentralization of data doesn't come without its concerns. Zuckerberg highlighted cases where private messages can lead to "terrible things" like child exploitation, terrorism, and extortion." Still, he believes encryption will be important for his team to get right. To do so, Zuckerberg also said Facebook will have to strike a balance of working with governments and law enforcement agencies when user data is requested.
So that what people share doesn't "come back to hurt them later," Zuckerberg said the team will move towards reducing permeance messages, similar to how Stories expire after 24 hours. "I believe there's an opportunity to set a new standard for private communication platforms -- where content automatically expires or is archived over time," he said.
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. Eventually, he imagines SMS will work seamlessly across the company platforms as well.
Regarding where user data is stored, Zuckerberg says the company will not build data centers in countries with "a track record of violating human rights like privacy or freedom of expression," as doing so could open the door for those governments to access people's information. Zuckerberg said he is willing to take a stand on this point, even if it means that Facebook gets blocked in certain countries.
- No definite timeline was provided for when these changes will rollout across Facebook products, though the chief exec said these changes would come "over the next few years" and that "a lot of this work is in the early stages."
For Zuckerberg, a focus on privacy appears to be his top priority for the company moving forward. "I believe we should be working towards a world where people can speak privately and live freely knowing that their information will only be seen by who they want to see it and won't all stick around forever," he said. "If we can help move the world in this direction, I will be proud of the difference we've made."
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