Mark Zuckerberg has signalled a huge shift in Facebook’s strategy, moving away from public posting towards encrypted private messaging. In a 3,000 word blog post on his personal Facebook profile, Mr Zuckerberg said he expected the company’s private messaging products, such as Messenger and WhatsApp, to be “the main way people communicate on the Facebook network” in the future. He said he expected direct messaging to dwarf the traditional and current format of Facebook’s News Feed in just a couple of years.
The Facebook CEO said he would unify the private messaging features of all Facebook’s apps into one service and encr ypt them all; meaning maximum priv acy for users. “Working towards implementing end-to-end encryption for all private communications is the right thing to do,” Zuckerberg said.
The strategy could frustrate law enforcement surveillance efforts as well as lawmakers who have called on Facebook to better moderate user content. It could potentially also limit the company’s means of generating revenue by targeting users with ads. However, Zuckerberg said that he could live with a potential loss in revenue because users want better control of their data while still having easy access to their contacts. As p art of Zuckerberg’s strategy, a Fa cebook user would be able to communicate with WhatsApp users while only having a Messenger account and vice versa. Users would also have more options for how long chats are saved, he added.
“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,” he said. “This is the future I hope we will help bring about.” Facebook is one of the biggest global play ers in private messaging with its WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, each used by more than 1 billion people. Only WhatsApp fully secures message content from all outsiders, including Facebook itself. Poli ce have raised concerns about introducing similar security to the other services because they would no longer be able to access online chat records to track religious extremists or other perpetrators.
Regulators have called for Facebook to increase moderation of user content, but more encryption would make it difficult to view and track problematic posts. Encrypted conversations also limit Face book’s ability to send targeted advertisements. Facebook may need to look for new ways to insert itself between busi nesses and consumers to generate revenue. In Thailand there are an estimated 51 million Facebook users, with the country ranking in the world’s top when it comes to social media usage, for which Facebook is the most popular social network.