Mark Zuckerberg: The Future of Social Media Is Private, Encrypted Communication

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a lengthy statement Wednesday outlining how the company hopes to make communication across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp a “fundamentally more private experience,” moving toward what he says will be social media’s future.

“I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever,” wrote Zuckerberg.

According to Zuckerberg, successful social media platforms will focus on providing private interactions, balancing encryption and safety, reducing post permanence, securing data storage, and offering secure communication across networks.

Zuckerberg’s statement details how Facebook plans to make all aspects of its platforms “more private and more secure, including with end-to-end encryption,” like what currently protects users’ messages in WhatsApp. These changes are in the early stages, with progress expected within the next few years.

Facebook will also avoid building data centers in countries that have a “track record of violating human rights like privacy or freedom of expression,” says Zuckerberg, further protecting user data from government intervention.

“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,” wrote Zuckerberg, referring to the string of privacy scandals the company’s dealt with over the past few years. However, Zuckerberg believes platforms focused on private communication could be “even more important to people than the platforms we’ve already built” for open connection and sharing, particularly if the company successfully implements “interoperability” across its platforms.

In Facebook’s Marketplace, for example, sellers often post their personal phone number publicly to facilitate sales. A Facebook network with interoperability would allow a potential buyer to send the seller a WhatsApp message via Facebook, allowing them to keep their phone number private while still having flexibility in communication.

Operating between WhatsApp and Messenger, users will have the benefits of end-to-end encryption without having to remain in a single platform. Eventually, says Zuckerberg, users will have the choice to extend this interoperability to SMS as well, further expanding the potential of private communication via Facebook platforms.

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