And on the sixth day of March the clouds above Menlo Park parted, and lo, Mark Zuckerberg spoke of privacy.
Today was another Big Idea day for Mark, one where our pallid, lab-grown CEO shovels 3,000 words of pure disruption down our collective throats (in the form of a lengthy Facebook post). This particular sermon’s themes were privacy and security—topics I think we can all agree Facebook is known for and excels at.
Let’s see what he’s learned.
“There is a growing awareness that the more entities that have access to your data, the more vulnerabilities there are for someone to misuse it or for a cyber attack to expose it,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post, titled “A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking.” “There is also a growing concern among some that technology may be centralising power in the hands of governments and companies like ours.”
Zuckerberg’s solution to this problem, apparently, is to build a communication chimera that connects WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. Or, as he called it, “a simpler platform that’s focused on privacy first.”
The service roll-up has been rumoured for a while now, which makes the main news the company’s admittedly smart spin on the scheme. Facebook has been paying a high price—both in consumer trust and plummeting US users—for its myriad failures, from Cambridge Analytica to its own data breaches. “We don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services,” Zuckerberg wrote today in what may be the single greatest understatement of his lifetime.
What this new platform will look like is anyone’s best guess. The features of WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram are all different enough that some parts of this Frankenstein’s chat app will likely be shaved down to fit into Mark’s round hole of privacy-focused communication. All we know, in broad strokes, is his intention to include end-to-end encryption and disappearing messages. As the note claims, “many people prefer the intimacy of communicating one-on-one or with just a few friends.”
You could be forgiven for thinking Mark Zuckerberg had, at the age of 34, stumbled upon the concept of a group chat.
In a very brief interview with the New York Times, he characterised his plan as creating a “digital living room,” neglecting to mention that the overwhelming majority of living rooms do not contain Mark Zuckerberg quietly observing said private moments.
My main question is, when Mark Zuckerberg wants to have an intimate, encrypted conversation with friends that won’t stick around to haunt him years later, what software does he use?
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty)