Facebook isn’t typically a name you toss around when you talk about the positive side of security and privacy. The social network has been plagued by major mistakes in this regard, especially lately. Going as far as to set aside billions of dollars ahead of an expected FTC fine. But the social network’s chief executive officer wants to make some sweeping changes.
During the opening day of Facebook’s developer conference, F8, Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage to talk about what’s coming next for Facebook. Specifically, how privacy will be playing a major, pivotal role from this point on. Zuckerberg has already said in the past that he wants to transition away from the open News Feed. Instead, Facebook’s future is a “privacy-focused communications platform”. That includes bridging owned properties Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger for a more secure messaging option.
Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits that the social network’s first primary mission was to bring the world together, for better or worse. However, apparently with that plan finished, the next stage is a more secure way to communicate. “The future is private”, according to Zuckerberg. As noted today by The Verge, Zuckerberg sees these secure means of conversation even more important than the digital “town squares” Facebook consists of now.
“Over time, I believe that a private social platform will be even more important to our lives than our digital town squares. So today, we’re going to start talking about what this could look like as a product, what it means to have your social experience be more intimate, and how we need to change the way we run this company in order to build this.”
That effort starts with a redesigned app, which the company unveiled today. This is built around groups and events, but is much less cluttered. Facebook Watch and Marketplace also get better positioning in this redesign. Facebook wants to continue to shift away from the News Feed, and the plan to merge WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger is still moving forward.
“We’re rolling out FB5, a fresh new design for Facebook that’s simpler, faster, more immersive and puts your communities at the center. Overall, we’ve made it easier to find what you’re looking for and get to your most-used features.
One of the new features is called “Meet New Friends”. This will help Facebook users find people with similar interests, whether they’re in a similar group, or they want to find people in their city. Other similar points of contact can be going to the same school or working for the same employer. Facebook also confirmed this will be getting integrated into the new Groups effort, which should help people find and use the feature more often.
People will start seeing some of these updates in the Facebook app right away, and the new desktop site will come in the next few months.”
And here are the major changes for the new Groups:
- Redesigned Groups tab to make discovery easier: We’ve completely redesigned the Groups tab and made discovery even better. The tab now shows a personalized feed of activity across all your groups. And the new discovery tool with improved recommendations lets you quickly find groups you might be interested in.
- Making it easier to participate in Groups: We’re also making it easier to get relevant group recommendations elsewhere in the app like in Marketplace, Today In, the Gaming tab, and Facebook Watch. You may see more content from your groups in News Feed. And, you will be able to share content directly to your groups from News Feed, the same way you do with friends and family.
- New features to support specific communities: Different communities have different needs, so we’re introducing new features for different types of groups. Through new Health Support groups, members can post questions and share information without their name appearing on a post. Job groups will have a new template for employers to post openings, and easier ways for job seekers to message the employer and apply directly through Facebook. Gaming groups will get a new chat feature so members can create threads for different topics within the group. And because we know people use Facebook Live to sell things in Buy and Sell groups, we’re exploring ways to let buyers easily ask questions and place orders without leaving the live broadcast.
Zuckerberg was pretty honest about the transition, which many people might not actually believe is happening:
“Now look, I get that a lot of people aren’t sure we’re serious about this,” Zuckerberg said at F8. “We don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly. But I’m committed to doing this well and starting a new chapter for our product.”
Will Facebook actually go through with these changes? What do you think?