Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Mark Zuckerberg Spews Some Bullshit About Facebook Becoming a ‘Privacy-Focused’ Communications Platform

Ryan Mac, Buzzfeed News:

In a Facebook post that is thin on specific details and titled “A Privacy-Focused Vision For Social Networking,” Zuckerberg outlines a future in which his company will build tools to help users communicate privately, using secure, end-to-end encrypted messaging and ephemeral stories. If Facebook, which has often made promises about privacy and fallen short, is able to execute this plan, it would mark a monumental shift in how the company operates, and more importantly, how it conducts business.

“I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,” Zuckerberg writes. “Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks.”

Is anyone falling for this bullshit? Facebook is a company that is defined by its creepy need to know everything to the extent that it rushes from scandal to scandal concerning its use of private data, headed by a man who puts tape over his laptop’s webcam and bought up all of the houses around his own just so he could tear them down for additional privacy.

If Facebook truly is going to build private, encrypted services for its users, it’s not because the company’s culture has radically pivoted to embrace the value of privacy. This is more likely a tactic, rather than a goal for its own sake.

Update: Bryan Menegus, Gizmodo:

My main question is, when Mark Zuckerberg wants to have an intimate, encrypted conversation with friends that won’t stick around to haunt him years later, what software does he use?

Great question.

Adi Robertson, the Verge:

Since 2017, Chinese law has required online services to store user data within its borders. Several overseas tech companies formed partnerships with local businesses, including Apple, which raised privacy concerns by migrating data to servers controlled by the state-run China Telecom last year. (Apple has said it’s still maintaining strong user privacy.) Google is facing its own firestorm over the prospect of a censored Chinese search app, although no such app has been released and the company does not maintain servers in China.

Facebook seems to be taking a harder line. If Zuckerberg holds to this promise, he’s effectively locking Facebook out of the Chinese market for the foreseeable future. And he’s implying that any company dealing with “places where [data] won’t be secure” is endangering the future of privacy.

In theory, it doesn’t matter where encrypted user data is stored. You could drop a hard drive full of highly-classified American government documents into North Korea and, if it’s properly encrypted, there is no practical need to worry. Even so, China’s legal system doesn’t necessarily have the same checks and balances as in many other countries. A concern is that Apple could be compelled to give up their iCloud encryption keys for Chinese users.

Zuckerberg trying to lecture Apple on privacy is just cute. While he may now be dismissive of offering services in China, Facebook’s history in the country indicates that the company tried desperately to launch there, even creating a method to censor posts in compliance with Chinese government policies. Zuckerberg’s post doesn’t come from a virtuous place; it’s just frustrated spin for a plan that didn’t come to fruition.