The Facebook founder announced the news in note titled, "A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking"

By Lindsay Kimble
March 06, 2019 02:12 PM
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Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook note on Wednesday that the social network will make a shift toward becoming more “privacy-focused.”

In the note — titled “A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking” — Zuckerberg noted that he’s been focused on “addressing the biggest challenges facing Facebook” in the wake of numerous scandals, including a hack that exposed the personal information of nearly 50 million users last fall.

“This means taking positions on important issues concerning the future of the internet. In this note, I’ll outline our vision and principles around building a privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform,” said Zuckerberg in the memo. “There’s a lot to do here, and we’re committed to working openly and consulting with experts across society as we develop this.”

Noting the current capabilities of both Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook, Zuckerberg acquiesced that “people increasingly also want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room.”

“As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,” Zuckerberg explained. “Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks.”

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Zuckerberg, 34, said that while “public social networks will continue to be very important in people’s lives,” there are “still a lot of useful services to build on top of them.”

He said that Facebook will shift toward becoming “focused on privacy first.”

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Hearkening to past negative headlines, Zuckerberg told users, “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. But we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.”

“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,” he said. “This is the future I hope we will help bring about.”

Zuckerberg went on to explain his vision of the “principles” behind the “privacy-focused platform” — which include private interactions, encryption, safety and secure data storage, among other things.

“Over the next few years, we plan to rebuild more of our services around these ideas,” he said. “The decisions we’ll face along the way will mean taking positions on important issues concerning the future of the internet. We understand there are a lot of tradeoffs to get right, and we’re committed to consulting with experts and discussing the best way forward.”

Noting that the shift is still in the “early stages,” Facebook is already committed to “consulting with experts, advocates, industry partners and governments” to get the platform “right.”

“At the same time, working through these principles is only the first step in building out a privacy-focused social platform,” said Zuckerberg. “Beyond that, significant thought needs to go into all of the services we build on top of that foundation.”

Concluded the lengthy post, “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. If we can help move the world in this direction, I will be proud of the difference we’ve made.”

Last year, Zuckerberg testified before Congress, apologizing for Facebook reportedly sharing the information of 87 million users with the political research group Cambridge Analytica, a revelation first reported by The Observer and The New York Times. Cambridge Analytica worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

At the time, Zuckerberg admitted the company “didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well.”