Facebook to merge with WhatsApp and Instagram

Mark Zuckerberg wants to reposition Facebook as a privacy-focused platform

Mark Zuckerberg wants to reposition Facebook as a privacy-focused platform

In a blog post published Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company wanted to become a "privacy-focused communications platform".

Zuckerberg also committed not to building datacenters in countries with a track record for violating human rights, which would seem to suggest it is resigned never to operating in China, and will face outright bans in places like Russian Federation that are demanding local data stores.

Zuckerberg also goes on to detail how Facebook will approach secure data storage, including new considerations about where it builds data centers and whether it will abide by foreign data storage laws when governments seek access to people's information.

It's hard to believe that Facebook would take the more secure and private route towards its social media applications.

Among the points of Facebook's new privacy plan: Zuckerberg said Facebook will introduce a way to make messages time-out, so that they will vanish by default after a preset time limit - for example, one month or within just a few seconds - with users able to control when their messages disappear.

"Zuckerberg does understand, however, why people are questioning Facebook's newfound commitment to privacy, ".because frankly we don't now have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services".

What happened in India and Myanmar shows how unsafe even private messaging services can be, because they have the potential to create social bubbles that bad actors can tap into.

Facebook's interest in private messaging has been clear for a long time, back in 2014 the company paid $19 billion for WhatsApp.

It's worth pointing out that Zuckerberg never said his company is going to stop tracking what users do or stop analysing user actions or user data in order to advertise against them. "However, today if you want to message people on Facebook you have to use Messenger, on Instagram you have to use Direct, and on WhatsApp you have to use WhatsApp", Zuckerberg wrote in the post.

Can Zuckerberg really make a privacy-friendly Facebook?

Facebook has tried in vain for years to bring its website to China - but it doesn't mean that the company is entirely absent from the country.

Zuckerberg plans to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook - the three social messaging apps will remain as stand-alone apps, but their technical configurations will be unified.

But he said the company was planning to build a "privacy-focused communications platform" that he believed would become "even more important than today's open platforms".

Slaby even suggested that Facebook will continue to "prioritize its own profits well above user privacy concerns".

The integration plans involve thousands of Facebook staff and are expected to be completed late this year or early next year, The New York Times reported in January.

Whether Zuckerberg's hoped and predictions come true remains to be seen, the private messaging industry is still young, but despite Facebook's massive stake in it, they still haven't been able to monetize it effectively. Sensitive data will only be stored in countries with strong human rights track records.

Facebook's now-explicit transition from public square into private portal shouldn't be too big a shock; it's a shift that's been increasingly telegraphed by the platform's constant addition of functional gewgaws like payments, games, and commerce options from food delivery to hailing rideshares. To facilitate this, he aims to use the technologies of WhatsApp as the foundation to build the Facebook ecosystem.

The London charity said Tuesday that Yelp, Duolingo, Indeed, the King James Bible app, and two Muslim prayer apps, Qibla Connect and Muslim Pro, were still sharing user data without consent.

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