Facebook is Focusing on Encrypted, Ephemeral Messaging in the Future

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How can Facebook, a company that has relied on handing out personal user information, find a new way forward in 2019?

Part of that comes from the company’s messaging platforms, which are some of the most commonly used out there. Between WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, the social network sees a lot of traffic. And while Facebook has already outlined its goals to integrate the messaging platforms in some way or another, the company’s CEO today announced an even bigger goal.

According to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the company will be turning a bigger focus on end-to-end encryption in its messaging platforms, and relying more on ephemeral messaging as well. First, though, Zuckerberg says that social networks in the public sphere (basically how Facebook operates now) will still be popular for the foreseeable future, and that nothing is changing in that regard. However, the chief executive does see a way to help improv its own messaging efforts by making them more secure.

So much so, in fact, that Zuckerberg says that it is willing to see Facebook get banned in countries where these rules are not allowed.

“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, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing. But we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.

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. This is the future I hope we will help bring about.”

As a result of this change in focus, Zuckerberg says that Messenger and other messaging platforms will start to look a lot more like WhatsApp. On the back-end, at least. The company executive says end-to-end encryption will be the default for its messaging platforms in the future across its suite of apps. Facebook has been reported to be testing this sort of thing back in 2018.

Zuckerberg talks briefly about making messaging between its platforms work more seamlessly. We know that Facebook wants to integrate Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram so that messaging between them is effortless. That is still the company’s goal in the future, even as it embraces security and privacy.

Zuckerberg has bullet points, too, including how data storage will be handled:

“Secure data storage. People should expect that we won’t store sensitive data in countries with weak records on human rights like privacy and freedom of expression in order to protect data from being improperly accessed.

Over the next few years, we plan to rebuild more of our services around these ideas. The decisions we’ll face along the way will mean taking positions on important issues concerning the future of the internet. We understand there are a lot of tradeoffs to get right, and we’re committed to consulting with experts and discussing the best way forward. This will take some time, but we’re not going to develop this major change in our direction behind closed doors. We’re going to do this as openly and collaboratively as we can because many of these issues affect different parts of society.”

The main takeaway here, as far as a rollout is concerned, is that Zuckerberg is not planning for this to go into effect tomorrow. Or maybe even in 2019. Zuckerberg reiterates that this may be “over the next few years”. It will also probably be a gradual rollout.

This is a bold goal for Facebook, but we will have to wait and see if it actually turns into a real policy shift for the company. One thing is for certain: If Facebook does go through with it, the Director of the FBI is probably not going to be a fan of the idea at all.

What do you think?

[via Facebook]