Facebook Takes Page from Apple’s Book, Plans Major Privacy Overhaul

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Online privacy and Facebook may seem like two things that are mutually exclusive. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to change that.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Zuckerberg outlined a “privacy-focused vision” to overhaul Facebook. Why? Because “privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Zuckerberg’s grand vision includes a complete overhaul of some of the company’s core apps. Those apps will be rebuilt around principles like end-to-end encryption, disappearing messages, private interactions, online safety, and cybersecurity.

The Facebook founder and CEO also added that these changes will be made over the next few years. And during the course of the overhaul, Facebook will be “taking positions on important issues concerning the future of the internet.”

Zuckerberg also teased a merging of its most popular messaging platforms, like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. That’s a move that was reported earlier this year by The New York Times.

Still, much of the work is in the early stages, Zuckerberg said. The Menlo Park firm hopes to carry out the overhaul in an open and collaborative fashion, which includes consulting with various advocates and experts to “get these decisions right.”

If you think this sounds a bit out-of-character for Facebook, Zuckerberg agrees. He acknowledged that Facebook doesn’t “currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services.”

But Facebook is obviously realizing that online privacy is something that more and more users demand — particularly in the wake of massive data scandals and controversies. As Zuckerberg puts it, private platforms will become “even more important” than open ones.

It’s not what you’d expect from Facebook, but the overall vision sounds a lot like another Silicon Valley giant: Apple.

Apple is an outlier in the tech industry because it doesn’t harvest and leverage data like Facebook or Google does. In fact, Apple has had a longstanding commitment to protecting its users’ privacy — which it maintains is a human right.

Facebook and Apple have clashed over privacy in the past, too. During the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Apple CEO Tim Cook made some comments that Zuckerberg didn’t exactly like. Now, it seems, consumer demand may be pulling Facebook closer to Apple’s position.

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