Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced after the massive criticism of recent months, the online network to focus more on the protection of privacy.
“I believe communications will increasingly shift to confidential, encrypted services in the future, where people can rely on what they tell each other to stay secure,” Zuckerberg wrote. Facebook wants to work on this future.
The world’s largest online network had been criticized especially for the handling of user data, especially after the outbreak of the data scandal involving Cambridge Analytica. “I understand that many people do not believe Facebook would or want to build such a privacy-focused platform,” Zuckerberg said. The online network is not reputed to develop privacy-oriented services.
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A complete encryption like WhatsApp
The announcement of Wednesday actually means a categorical rethink compared to Zuckerberg’s attitude in the early years of Facebook. At that time he had said that the trend is that people are making more and more public about themselves. Facebook had repeatedly come into conflict with privacy advocates and regulators as the company tested the limits on privacy.
Now Zuckerberg announced that more offers of the group would get a complete encryption modeled on the chat service WhatsApp. In so-called end-to-end encryption, the contents of a conversation can only be viewed by sender and recipient. It prevents others – “including us – from seeing what people in our service share,” wrote Zuckerberg.
Other services such as video chats, e-commerce offerings, payment services would build on this secure base. He expects that in a few years WhatsApp and the second chat service of the group, the Facebook Messenger, the central way to communicate about the people on the platform, predicted Zuckerberg.
It was not clear what the new course for the business model of Facebook will mean. The online network is currently dependent on knowing as much as possible about the interests, views, plans and living conditions of its users – in order to convey targeted advertising. With a consistent implementation of the end-to-end encryption, Facebook would not have access to the content of the users.
In his Facebook entry Zuckerberg did not agree, in an interview with the New York Times He signaled that Facebook could find new ideas for making money. “There are plenty of business opportunities, especially in developing countries, and more private tools can be developed around people’s whereabouts,” he said.
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Dissemination of fake news and illegal content
A wider use of end-to-end encryption on the Facebook platform could also compound the problem of disseminating misinformation and illegal content. Because even Facebook’s teams reviewing and deleting posts would not have access to them. In India and Myanmar, among others, private WhatsApp groups have already been used for hate campaigns. Zuckerberg wrote that Facebook is working to detect accounts with bad intentions even without access to the content, for example, to behavioral patterns.
Zuckerberg also stressed that Facebook had decided not to build data centers in countries that violated human rights or restricted freedom of expression. Among other things, this statement should be a market entry in China, on which in recent years, speculated again and again, from the table.
Another aspect of the plan is that user data on Facebook could be automatically deleted after a certain time.
“That would reduce the risk of messages reappearing later and embarrassing you,” Zuckerberg wrote. The automatic deletion could also be switched off – or be set for some contents even to a few minutes.
In the case of Cambridge Analytica, which put massive pressure on Facebook, data from Facebook users was illegally passed on to a data analysis company by the developer of a survey app more than five years ago. Facebook knew about it since the end of 2016, but was satisfied with the assurance that the data had been destroyed and did not inform the users.