Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has outlined his vision for the privacy-focused future for the crisis-hit social network.
In a lengthy blog post on Wednesday, Zuckerberg explained a wide-reaching shift in policy, following a wide range of controversies and abuses of user privacy over the last couple of years.
Following some apparent soul searching and calls for government regulation of the platform, Zuckerberg says Facebook plans to shift to a model where users communicate in more intimate groups within encrypted services, without leaving a perennial digital footprint.
This means stepping back from Facebook’s founding feature, which involves users sharing lots of information with broad groups of friends. While these features will remain important for sharing opinions on important issues and connecting with new people, Zuckerberg said the private interactions will become the foundation of the firm’s various platforms in future.
The social networking kingpin also said users should be able to post freely without the risk of comments coming back to haunt them in the future, which means messages and stories disappear over time.
“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 wrote. “This is the future I hope we will help bring about.”
In the blog post, Zuckerberg said the new privacy-focused platform will be built around the following:
Private interactions. People should have simple, intimate places where they have clear control over who can communicate with them and confidence that no one else can access what they share.
Encryption. People’s private communications should be secure. End-to-end encryption prevents anyone — including us — from seeing what people share on our services.
Reducing Permanence. People should be comfortable being themselves, and should not have to worry about what they share coming back to hurt them later. So we won’t keep messages or stories around for longer than necessary to deliver the service or longer than people want them.
Safety. People should expect that we will do everything we can to keep them safe on our services within the limits of what’s possible in an encrypted service.
Interoperability. People should be able to use any of our apps to reach their friends, and they should be able to communicate across networks easily and securely.
Secure data storage. People should expect that we won’t store sensitive data in countries with weak records on human rights like privacy and freedom of expression in order to protect data from being improperly accessed.
The changes come as Facebook bids to regain the public’s trust following the high profile privacy abuses of the last couple of years. The publicly-traded company also has governments around the world seeking to exert more control over the social network. Whether these changes will be enough to quell those desires remains to be seen.
Do you take Zuckerberg at his word? Or is this just another stunt to keep the would be regulators off Facebook’s back? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.