Mark Zuckerberg wrote a lengthy post on Facebook titled: “A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking.” In it, he provides some information about things Facebook will do to protect the privacy of its users.
Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook doesn’t have a good reputation regarding privacy.
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.
Facebook is going to use privacy enhancing techniques that it used in WhatsApp to build a privacy-focused platform. It includes end-to-end encryption that will prevent anyone – including Facebook – from seeing what people are sharing on their services.
Facebook will no longer keep messages or stories around for longer than necessary to deliver the service or longer than people want them. Mark Zuckerberg wrote: “As we build up large collections of messages and photos over time, they can become a liability as well as an asset.” People want to know that what they share won’t come back to hurt them later.
Stories already expire after 24 hours unless you archive them. Facebook wants messages to be deleted after a month or a year by default. Users would have the ability to change the time frame or turn off auto-deletion if they want to.
There is also a plan to make Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct, and WhatsApp interoperable. People on one service will be able to communicate with people on the other services. This apparently won’t work on iOS, but can work on Android.
Another big thing is the announcement that Facebook will not build data centers that store sensitive data in countries that have a track record of violating human rights like privacy or freedom of expression. Mark Zuckerberg acknowledges that this could mean Facebook’s services could be blocked in some countries.
Overall, this plan sounds good. Privacy is extremely important, and I like the idea Facebook will allow users to delete things and not have them stored forever. I’m going to need to see Facebook actually make those changes before I will believe that it will follow through on this plan. Actions speak louder than words.