Facebook is getting a whole lot more privacy focused

Roman Schwartz
March 8, 2019

Today was another Big Idea day for Mark, one where our pallid, lab-grown CEO shovels 3,000 words of pure disruption down our collective throats (in the form of a lengthy Facebook post). This is the latter, focused on "vision and principles".

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 now have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we've historically focused on tools for more open sharing.

Days after Apple CEO Time took a indirect jibe at Facebook, it's now the turn of Mark Zuckerberg to respond in kind.

In a few years, I expect future versions of Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network. The use of strong encryption-already the default in WhatsApp and an option in Facebook Messenger-keeps the contents of communications private from governments and indeed from Facebook itself. But it does nothing to prevent the company from scanning "metadata", such as who users are texting, and when they're active.

"So we won't keep messages or stories around for longer than necessary to deliver the service or longer than people want it", Zuckerberg said.

He said that in the current environment, "people increasingly also want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room".

In a Thursday article for the MIT Technology Review, editor and journalist Konstantin Kakaes claimed Zuckerberg's post "shows why Facebook needs to be broken up".

Facebook's new orientation follows a rocky two-year battering over revelations about its leaky privacy controls.

Reducing Permanence. People should be comfortable being themselves, and should not have to worry about what they share coming back to hurt them later.

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Furthermore, this patch fixes some script errors that the team identified were occasionally causing disconnects during matches. Jayfresh_Respawn said "some weapons will be weaker and more common, while others will be stronger and rarer".

The real drive for ephemerality is in the line "share more naturally".

Facebook exists primarily to sell advertisements - and its entire business model rests on mining our data to do just that.

The digital currency will nearly certainly be used on the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging platform and stands to be juxtapositioned against the model of decentralized digital currencies, Bitcoin (BTC). "We want to give people a choice so they can reach their friends across these networks from whichever app they prefer".

Zuckerberg has a narrow definition of interoperability: you will be able to use any app you want to contact your friends, so long as Facebook made it.

Indeed, in Europe a condition of Facebook's WhatsApp acquisition was that Facebook would refrain from doing that-the company ended up with a $122 million fine for lying to antitrust regulators on that point.

However, I'd like to end on a positive note, as there is one point in Zuckerberg's essay for which he should be unequivocally congratulated: the part about secure data storage, and how Facebook refuses to deploy it in "countries that have a track record of violating human rights like privacy or freedom of expression".

Translation: we won't build data centres in China.

PI says it has notified all the developers of the apps that still send data to Facebook and raised the issue with the European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisor.

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