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Last Updated : Mar 07, 2019 09:05 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Mark Zuckerberg's encryption plans may help Facebook save face

In a recent blog post, Zuckerberg said the aims to build Facebook into a private service which is more secure, like WhatsApp, which has end-to-end encryption

Vaibhavi Khanwalkar @vaiitoh

Mark Zuckerberg's recent announcement about making Facebook a private and encrypted communication channel revealed the new direction he aims set out on. Even though the social media giant took pride in its 'open sharing' strategy at the inception of the company, Zuckerberg acknowledged that its users may want something different.

After being involved in many data breaches and privacy debacles, Zuckerberg said he aims to build Facebook into a private service which is more secure, like WhatsApp, which has end-to-end encryption. The principles of this new platform will be private interactions, encryption, reducing permanence, safety and interoperability. But, why now?

Zuckerberg mentioned the phrase 'people want' six times in the blog post where he explained his vision for a new Facebook, labelling this a users' choice. But, this may help the company mend its image in today's environment when users are trusting very few establishments with their data.

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After Facebook was found to be involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it's credibility regarding handling personal data of its users was tarnished. In the scandal, the political consulting firm harvested personal information of millions of Facebook users without their consent for political purposes.

Facebook admitted that data of 50 million Indian users was also compromised in this data breach. Many countries across the globe are questioning Facebook's operations. Due to this issue, Zuckerberg even had to appear before a senate committee in the US to justify Facebook's data collection methods.

Even in India, Facebook and its social media platforms WhatsApp and Instagram appeared before a parliamentary committee recently to assure the Centre that they were complying with the local privacy laws. They were also asked to keep misinformation on the websites in check.

Targeted advertising on the website which uses personal data of its users through third party apps was also a sore spot. By tapping into private communication, Facebook would be able to restore the trust of the public, which was damaged after the social network's mishaps.

"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. But we have repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services people really want, including private messages and stories," Zuckerberg wrote in a lengthy blog post.

Zuckerberg said encrypted messaging would also help the safety of government dissidents and others who harbour controversial views.

It is unclear how the company's advertising will navigate through this new model but it is still in the works with no particular time frame given yet. Critics are worried that this may never see the light of day, as has happened with many other announcements Facebook made as a response to backlash to its scandals. This includes its anonymous login tools and 'clear history' button to clear information advertisers on Facebook have about you.

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First Published on Mar 7, 2019 04:33 pm
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