Privacy-focused communication will be the future of social networking CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has declared. In a lengthy blog post, Zuckerberg outlined his vision for Facebook essentially saying that direct communication is their main priority.
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“As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,” Zuckerberg wrote.
“I expect future versions of Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network.”
Facebook dominates common chat methods
Facebook’s interest in private messaging has been clear for a long time, back in 2014 the company paid $19 billion for WhatsApp. The Facebook messaging service Messenger has more than 1.3 billion users around the globe.
The blog post titled ‘A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking’ begin with Zuckerberg saying he has been focused on ‘understanding and addressing the biggest challenges facing Facebook’.
These challenges must have included Facebook’s ongoing problems with adequately protecting their user's privacy as well as their commercial relationships with major partners. Facebook’s current model is focused on its users publicly broadcasting information about their lives to their network through photo sharing and status updates.
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The emphasis of the service is not on private messaging. Instagram, another company owned by Facebook works in a similar way, encouraging users to upload images to their either private or public networks. Instant messaging is not the focus of Instagram either.
The public information shared by both Facebook and Instagram users is shared with advertisers who use that to create targeted ads, which in turn generates much of Facebook's revenue. But according to Zuckerberg’s blog, this will change.
“People are more cautious of having a permanent record of what they’ve shared,” Zuckerberg wrote.
“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.”
Can Facebook monetize messaging?
If you’ve been following the Facebook saga over the last few months this sudden pivot form emphasizing open socializing to private encrypted chats might surprise you. Facebook got a troubled year about privacy issues.
Zuckerberg's seems to predict the public doubts saying: “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,” he wrote.
“But we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.”
Whether Zuckerberg's hoped and predictions come true remains to be seen, the private messaging industry is still young, but despite Facebook's massive stake in it, they still haven't been able to monetize it effectively.
Facebook has considered merging its three main services, Whatsapp, Instagram and Messenger. While this could work, it may also be the final straw for users who could turn to smaller encryption services like Signal.