By Emily A. Bruemmer
On March 6, 2019, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced via an interview and a Facebook blog post a planned shift to “building a privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform.” Characterizing this shift as a “privacy-focused vision,” Zuckerberg said that this change in focus meant that Facebook and Instagram would not only function as “the digital equivalent of a town square” but also “the digital equivalent of the living room.” This shift was billed in part as a response to user demand: according to the post, the “fastest growing areas of online communication” were private messaging, “ephemeral stories,” and small group communication.
According to the blog post, Facebook’s “privacy-focused platform” will be based on six principles: private interactions, encryption, reducing permanence, safety, interoperability, and secure data storage. “Interoperability” refers to Facebook’s plan to integrate its messaging services across Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram Direct. The blog post did not provide much detail on what these principles would mean in practice or what changes users would see from an experiential perspective, but rather qualified its efforts as being in the “early stages.”