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Facebook now focuses on encrypted and "ephemeral" messages, the Zuckerberg conversion

Facebook now focuses on encrypted and "ephemeral" messages, the Zuckerberg conversion

An important new blog post, Facebook increasingly shifts the focus from public posts to encrypted communications on its messaging app trio.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated this in a significant new blog post: Facebook is betting on encrypted messages and privacy In a 3,200-word letter, Zuckerberg states that encryption will be one of the keys to the future of Facebook and that the company willing to be banned in countries that refuse to make it work properly.

As I think about the future of the Internet, I believe that a privacy-focused communication platform will become even more important than today's open platforms, writes Zuckerberg. Today we already see that private messaging, ephemeral stories and small groups are by far the fastest growing areas of online communication.

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Encrypted messages: the future of communication?

Public social networks will continue to play their part, Zuckerberg adds, but he sees a great future opportunity built on a simpler platform that focuses on privacy in the first place. There will be a clear reversal for Facebook, which has become one of the richest companies in the world inventing new exotic methods of collecting personal data and allowing brands to sell advertising. Facebook has spent the last two years mired in data privacy scandals, starting with last year's revelations about Cambridge Analytica and continuing through the biggest data breach in the company's history.

I believe that the future of communication is increasingly moving towards private and encrypted services where people can be sure that what they say to each other remains safe and that their messages and content are not always available, says Zuckerberg, e this is the future that I hope we will contribute to achieve, goes on.

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Encrypted messages: Facebook as WhatsApp

To achieve its goal, Zuckerberg states that Facebook's messaging platforms they will evolve to look more like WhatsApp. End-to-end encryption dstandard iventer in the suite of Facebook messaging applications, as reported also by the New York Times at the beginning of this year.

The news of this move has prompted criticism that it represented another huge trick for collecting data from Facebook, which once promised European regulators that it would keep WhatsApp user data separate from other services. Zuckerberg is now using the promise of cryptography to sweeten the pill e attempts to reverse years of reputational damage proclaiming an almost religious belief in the power of privacy. This choice could also represent a business opportunity: in his post, Zuckerberg claims that private and encrypted messaging tools will also create space for new business tools, in particular those related to payments and trade, today's company obsessions. The services will eventually become a platform for many other types of private services, he writes.

In addition to making messaging more private, Zuckerberg also plans to make messaging interoperable and start by allowing messages to be sent between Facebook services, but Facebook eventually wants to make Instagram Direct, WhatsApp and Messenger interoperable.

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<p>To achieve its privacy goals, Zuckerberg states that Facebook does not <em>store sensitive data in countries with a weak record of human rights such as privacy and freedom of expression</em>. Countries such as Russia and Vietnam increasingly require that technology platforms store user data locally, <strong>where it is easier to make them interceptable by the police</strong>. The move would also seem to make it less likely that Facebook will open in China, one of Zuckerberg's most important goals.</p><div class='code-block code-block-9' style='margin: 8px auto; text-align: center; display: block; clear: both;'>
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Supporting this principle could mean that our services will be blocked in some countries, or that we will not be able to enter others quickly., writes Zuckerberg. This is a compromise we are willing to make. We do not believe that the storage of people's data in some countries is sufficiently secure to build such an important internet infrastructureZuckerberg did not provide a precise period of time to achieve the crowning of his vision, beyond saying that it would have happened in the next years. He also noted that the construction of the services described by him involved many compromises and was likely to incur the wrath of the police.

We are responsible for working with law enforcement agencies, writes Zuckerberg; we are working to improve our ability to identify and block bad players in our apps by detecting business models or by other means, even when we are unable to see the content of the messages, and will continue to invest in this work, but face an intrinsic compromise because we will never know of all the potential damage we do today when our security systems can see the messages themselves.

More ephemeral messages on Facebook

Facebook will also invest in making messages more ephemeral, says Zuckerberg. The company consider deleting messages by default after a month or a year, allowing the user to change the setting if desired and the company probably allow individual messages to be set with a deadline after few seconds or minutes. Also, Facebook reduce the amount of time it stores metadata on messages.

Of course, one thing to promise a newer and more private Facebook and another thing to do it. The company has a long history of announcements and promotion of advanced privacy features, as anonymous access tools and a button clear history to reduce what advertisers know about you and slow down or cancel their actual presentation. Facebook has the worst reputation for privacy, of all the big technology companies and a blog post of 3,200 words does not do much on its own to get the social platform out of trouble.

Still, Facebook has at least made it known that in the future it will emphasize privacy in a concrete way and that it is ready to be blocked in many countries as a result of this choice, in order to achieve the intended objectives. As more governments rejoice at the idea of ​​real-time surveillance of their citizens using Facebook tools, this choice could mark a positive change.