PUTTING PRI­VACY IRST?

Face­book boss an­nounces a host of changes to his so­cial me­dia plat­forms

Llanelli Star - - TECH NOW -

MARK ZUCKER­BERG doesn’t strike me as the kind of chap that suf­fers from bouts of self-doubt, and this week he was pretty in­sis­tent he was ab­so­lutely sure of two things.

Firstly, that the fu­ture of Face­book is “pri­vacy”. And se­condly that he was the man to de­liver that fu­ture for Face­book’s two bil­lion users.

I, on then other hand, have reg­u­lar bouts of doubt – not about my­self, but about whether any of us should be trust­ing Face­book with any of our pri­vate in­for­ma­tion given their track record of play­ing fast and loose with it in the not-too-dis­tant past.

So, for­give me for not be­ing en­tirely con­vinced by Zucker­berg’s re­cent “pivot to pri­vacy”, which he fleshed out in a lit­tle more de­tail at Face­book’s F8 con­fer­ence this week.

So, what did he ac­tu­ally say? Well, there was a lot of talk of pri­vacy, and then he men­tioned pri­vacy, then he talked a lit­tle bit more about pri­vacy.

Even­tu­ally, we got the point. In terms of real things hap­pen­ing, there was some in­for­ma­tion about changes to Face­book, and its other apps: Mes­sen­ger, In­sta­gram and What­sApp.

FACE­BOOK RE­DESIGN

THE main Face­book app and web pres­ence is get­ting a sig­nif­i­cant re­design, re­duc­ing the fo­cus on the news feed, and plac­ing groups at the cen­tre of ev­ery­thing.

The apps are much sim­pler in ap­pear­ance, and also of­fer a “dark mode” on the web ver­sion.

The Groups tab is get­ting a re­design, and Face­book is say­ing it will be­come a lot eas­ier to find groups you want to be­come a part of. Groups, it seems, will be as im­por­tant in the new world as Friends. Although bet­ter ways to find new friends are also promised.

Fi­nally, the new Face­book will ex­pand its shop­ping and dat­ing fea­tures – a new Se­cret Crush fea­ture will al­low you to create a pri­vate list of friends you have a crush on… and if you’re on their list too, you’ll be no­ti­fied.

The re­design is out now in the US, and com­ing else­where very soon.

MES­SEN­GER

THE app is be­ing re­built to be smaller in size and faster to start-up, us­ing less band­width and bat­tery.

And work is un­der way to make mes­sages en­crypted from end to end by de­fault, so no one but you and the in­tended re­cip­i­ent can read them.

Mes­sen­ger will also be re­designed to bring a sec­ond tab that gath­ers to­gether sto­ries, mes­sages, and mem­o­ries from your clos­est friends and fam­ily, to create a kind of mini pri­vate net­work. There was also a sug­ges­tion that a new ser­vice will al­low you to watch video to­gether with friends within the app.

Face­book also re­vealed a new desk­top app for Mes­sen­ger is on the way, so you can use the ser­vice from your com­puter as well as your phone and tablet.

IN­STA­GRAM

IN­STA­GRAM is get­ting a re­vamped cam­era, with a new way to share even if you don’t have an im­age or some video - create mode lets you build a post with words, emo­jis and other graph­ics.

There will also be some new ways to dis­cour­age bul­ly­ing on the plat­form, although they were vague and seem­ingly with­out any launch date.

The least ex­cit­ing new fea­ture in In­sta­gram is the abil­ity to buy things with a sin­gle click that have been tagged in posts by “in­flu­encers, celebri­ties, and ath­letes”. Sounds aw­ful.

WHAT­SAPP

WHAT­SAPP is en­crypted from end-to-end, so it al­ready ticks the pri­vacy box.

Face­book has been test­ing a sys­tem where users can make pay­ments to each other from within the app in In­dia, and re­vealed the sys­tem would roll out to other coun­tries soon.

OCULUS

TWO new VR head­sets were also re­vealed at F8 - a new up­graded ver­sion of the Rift (which re­quires a com­puter) and the first stand-alone VR head­set from Face­book – the Oculus Quest, which has no wires and is used com­pletely in­de­pen­dently to any other de­vice (although you can con­nect it wirelessly to other de­vices so oth­ers can see into the game you’re play­ing). You can or­der these now for £399/£499 for de­liv­ery later this month.

IT all sounded quite con­vinc­ing, I have to ad­mit, and if Face­book is true to its word that pri­vacy is go­ing to be cen­tral to the whole thing, then there can be no doubt the world will be a bet­ter place.

Given that Face­book is a com­pany that lit­er­ally makes its money by ex­ploit­ing your per­sonal data to bet­ter tar­get ad­ver­tis­ing, how will that work in the new pri­vate world? Where is the money go­ing to come from?

We’ll have to wait for an an­swer.

Mark Zucker­berg speaks at Face­book’s F8 con­fer­ence

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