Mark Zuckerberg Outlines Privacy-focused Vision for Facebook

Zuckerberg said that people increasingly want to connect “privately in the digital equivalent of the living room.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has outlined the company’s vision to become a “privacy-focused platform” following a tumultuous 18-months for the social network.

In a blog post, the company founder said he believes that secure private messaging platforms will continue to grow in popularity; eventually outperforming open platforms. Facebook currently operates its own integrated Messenger platform, as well as messaging platform, WhatsApp, which it purchased in 2014 for around $19 billion.

The social media giant has been subject to intense scrutiny over the last 18-months following a series of damaging privacy scandals. The Cambridge Analytica scandal prompted a number of high-profile grillings by the US Government and European Commission.

Mark Zuckerberg failed to appear before the UK Parliament’s own investigation into fake news and misinformation, despite repeated calls for him to travel to the UK.

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In his post, Zuckerberg said that people increasingly want to connect “privately in the digital equivalent of the living room” and that his goal is to develop the firm into one that values privacy and secure data storage.

“Facebook and Instagram have helped people connect with friends, communities, and interests in the digital equivalent of a town square,” he wrote. “But people increasingly also want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room.”

A key component of his grand plan will see the company cease its practice of storing sensitive data in countries with questionable human rights and privacy policies. While this change in policy may impact the company’s ability to operate in certain nations, he suggested, it is a move that aligns with the firm’s fundamental principles.

“Upholding this principle may mean our services will get blocked in some countries, or that we won’t be able to enter others anytime soon. That’s a tradeoff we’re willing to make,” Zuckerberg added.

Zuckerberg went on to explain that an increased focus on privacy and encrypted messaging will enable the development of new business tools long-term; specifically in the realms of e-commerce and online payments.

“I believe we should be working toward a world where people can speak privately and freely knowing that their information will only be seen by who they want to see it,” he said. “If we can help move the world in this direction, I will be proud of the difference we’ve made.”

While there is no specific timeline for this new vision, he teased that changes are scheduled to take place “over the next few years.”

Addressing the issue of public trust, Zuckerberg also acknowledged that many users may not believe the firm’s ambition. However, he asserted that the company has ‘repeatedly shown’ it can adapt to changing consumer preferences.

“I understand that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform – because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing,” he said. “But we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including private messaging and stories.”

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