Zuckerberg's shift on privacy looks like a cop-out

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg

"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".

The company will focus on private and encrypted communications, where users can message smaller groups of friends, according to a New York Times analysis of the news.

Why? Because the long-winded spiel about the importance of privacy masks the fact that Zuckerberg's real motivation for combining the three services is to stave off efforts by United States and European Union regulators to force the unbundling of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram and introduce new competition to the market. Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote, has been "obsessed" with creating an "intimate environment" for WhatsApp users.

While Zuckerberg is, once again, talking the talk, he will have an uphill battle to convince social networking users of Facebook's pivot to privacy. Although Facebook has a long history of lying about its privacy-abusing activities, I agree with Thompson that Zuckerberg is probably serious about improving the privacy of Facebook's messaging products. "With interoperability, you'd be able to use WhatsApp to receive messages sent to your Facebook account without sharing your phone number - and the buyer wouldn't have to worry about whether you prefer to be messaged on one network or the other".

It's a serious enough problem that Facebook's gone as far as to limit users' ability to forward messages to multiple chats at once, in hopes that it will reduce the amount of misinformation being shared. End-to-end encryption prevents anyone - including us - from seeing what people share on our services.

Zuckerberg posted the new strategy to his Facebook page Wednesday, touching on topics that the company has signaled it would address for months, like connecting its two messaging apps, WhatsApp and Messenger, so people on both platforms can interact seamlessly.

"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 wrote. Here's what he thinks a privacy-focused social network could look like. He pledged that the company "won't keep messages or stories around for longer than necessary to deliver the service or longer than people want them".

Zuckerberg acknowledges Facebook doesn't have a good reputation when it comes to privacy, but he says they can adapt.

In response, Mr Zuckerberg said he wanted to develop the social media network into one focused around privacy, reducing permanence, and secure data storage. Still, many people wonder if Facebook is trying to build a Gmail killer.

Despite Zuckerberg attempting to display that Facebook has "learnt its lesson" in regard to privacy, it has already faced heavy criticism for the length of time it took to respond. Lawmakers around the world made a show of demanding answers from Facebook about the lapses and how the company will rectify the issues. "You can imagine many simple experiences like this - a person discovers a business on Instagram and easily transitions to their preferred messaging app for secure payments and customer support", he explained. "However, Facebook places all responsibility on apps to ensure that the data they send to Facebook has been collected lawfully". Connecting Instagram, WhatsAPP and Messenger could also bring up more antitrust concerns.

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