Why it matters: Privacy is a word not usually associated with Facebook. The social network has faced numerous scandals in recent times, and it’s something Mark Zuckerberg wants to address. In a new post, the CEO has outlined his vision for the “privacy-focused” future of the company.
Zuckerberg said Facebook and Instagram had become the digital equivalent of a town square over the last 15 years, but he believes people increasingly want to “connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room.”
Facebook and Instagram are primarily a place where people share aspects of their lives publicly, but Zuckerberg expects the focus to move away from the news feeds and toward private messaging, be it one-on-one or with a few close friends.
“People are more cautious of having a permanent record of what they’ve shared,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever. This is the future I hope we will help bring about.”
Zuckerberg said his vision for a privacy-focused platform would be built around seven principles: Private interactions, encryption, reduced permanence of messages and stories, safety, interoperability, and secure data storage.
The interoperability part relates to the previously announced plan to integrate the messaging services of Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. Essentially, a person could use Facebook Messenger to contact someone on Instagram, even if the sender doesn't have the photo-sharing app installed.
Zuckerberg added that Facebook wouldn’t store sensitive data in countries with poor human rights records, thereby preventing it from being improperly accessed. In January, Russia said both Facebook and Twitter were violating its laws by not storing user data on servers within the country.
Zuckerberg acknowledged that people may be skeptical about his plan but added that “we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.”
Making Facebook less about the news feed and more about private messaging could have an effect on the firm’s main source of revenue: advertising. But a focus on privacy may help it lose the unwelcome title of ‘least-trusted tech company.’