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Facebook's Zuckerberg spells out vision for a 'privacy-focused' internet after a year of turmoil

Key Points
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday posted a 3,000-word note outlining a more privacy-focused future for the tech company.
  • Zuckerberg said he expects Messenger and WhatsApp to be the main ways users communicate on Facebook in a few years.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Marlene Awaad | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday posted a 3,000-word note outlining a more "privacy-focused" future for the tech company, saying that communications platforms that protect privacy will "become even more important than today's open platforms."

Zuckerberg's new outline comes as Facebook builds out a new integrated messaging service that will allow users on Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp to communicate in private with each other.

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"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," Zuckerberg said on his Facebook post. "This is the future I hope we will help bring about."

The note detailed how Zuckerberg and his team are thinking about plans to integrate the messaging functions of the three main services. Zuckerberg said a lot of the work is still in its early stages, but he added that Facebook plans to consult with outside experts as it's built out. Facebook has been beset by privacy scandals over the past year, and has faced backlash from users and lawmakers.

"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," he wrote. "We want to give people a choice so they can reach their friends across these networks from whichever app they prefer."

Zuckerberg said the new service will prioritize user safety and encrypt private communications.

"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," Zuckerberg wrote. "But we've repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories."

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Zuckerberg did not explain how Facebook will make through its new focus on privacy, which is significant because almost all of the company's revenue comes through ads that businesses buy to reach users on core Facebook and Instagram. But Facebook has been experimenting with a number of new initiatives and features that could become revenue generators.

Most notably, Facebook could monetize private communication through private payments. The company is currently working on a cryptocurrency-based project that would allow WhatsApp users to transfer money to one another, according to reports by The New York Times and Bloomberg.

Ads are still likely to be the future though. Already, Messenger shows users some ads when they scroll through their list of recent messages. The company has also added its Stories features to both Messenger and WhatsApp. Facebook is looking to Stories on Instagram and the main app as another place for ads, so that strategy could eventually make its way to Messenger and WhatsApp.

Read the post here.

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