Zuckerberg promises 'privacy-focused' future for Facebook messaging apps

Zuckerberg pens blog post promising privacy

Facebook plans to rebuild its messaging service around privacy and ephemerality, according to a blog post from chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg said it will take a "few years" to realize his goal of shifting Facebook from a digitized public square to a trusted, secured social network.

"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," Zuckerberg wrote in a more than 3,200-word blog post.

"But we've repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories."

Though the company is still facing backlash over data misuse, Facebook's evolution plan will put end-to-end encryption at the forefront for Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct, much like how WhatsApp currently operates.

One goal of the revamp is interoperability among WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct, as Facebook is planning to merge its family of messaging apps into a single product.

In light of Facebook's many privacy scandals, part of the shift includes a move to ephemeral messaging, because giving users the option to delete messages "after a month or a year by default" would reduce the risk of messages "resurfacing and embarrassing you later," Zuckerberg wrote.

Zuckerberg said this is only the first step, as synchronizing the company's messaging apps could drive e-commerce opportunities.

"Significant thought needs to go into all of the services we build on top of that foundation – from how people do payments and financial transactions, to the role of businesses and advertising, to how we can offer a platform for other private services," he wrote.

When it comes to physically storing user information, Facebook will not build data centers "in countries that have a track record of violating human rights like privacy or freedom of expression" to avoid making it easier for governments to take people's data.

Zuckerberg is aware of his policies' consequences, saying he's willing to uphold his newly founded privacy principles even if it means that Facebook is blocked in certain countries.

"That's a tradeoff we're willing to make. We do not believe storing people's data in some countries is a secure enough foundation to build such important internet infrastructure on."

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