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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Daily News Roundup: Facebook’s Privacy Shift

Yesterday at the keynote for Facebook’s F8 developer conference, several key Facebook leaders took the stage to announce new additions to the product. But it was CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s statements that deserve the most attention.

It’s been a rough couple of years for Facebook. Scandal after scandal, leak after leak, and breach after breach, there hasn’t been a lot going for the network that wasn’t, well, bad. Facebook has compromised user data and broken user trust time and time again—and Zuck says that it’s time for a change.

The CEO took the stage yesterday with a backdrop that read “The future is private.” He discussed how the company had failed its users recently, but a privacy shift is coming. And not just in how Facebook works, but in how the company itself is being run. This effort means a dramatic change in Facebook and its apps, like Instagram and WhatsApp.

But they’re going to be fighting an uphill battle—he said as much on stage. “I get that a lot of people don’t think we’re serious about this,” he said, “I realize that we don’t have a good reputation on privacy, to put it lightly.” Results are what matter, though, and Facebook’s more privacy-focused shift is coming slowly. Rather than just pushing changes out the door, however, it appears that the company is taking a more systematic approach—something that is key to running a good, secure network.

Facebook’s approach appears to be simple, though multi-faceted. The network itself will be refocused, with groups and events playing a crucial role and the News Feed taking the backseat. Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger will be unified for a cross-platform, encrypted messaging system. We hope the real change comes on the backend, of course—where privacy truly lies. With the people who are supposed to be protecting our data.

Until that moment is proven, though, we can approach this “new Facebook” with healthy skepticism. The network has a lot to prove, and now’s the time it has to prove it.

In related news, here’s a look at all the other things Facebook announced yesterday.

  • Facebook Messenger is coming to Mac and Windows: Dedicated apps are on the way. [VentureBeat]
  • Facebook Dating expands: Facebook’s dating service is rolling out to 14 new countries, as well as getting a new “Secret Crush” feature to let users know who’s into them. [CNET]
  • Instagram is getting a redesigned camera: The camera is getting a remake, and dedicated shopping tags are coming to let users buy things directly from the app. [The Verge]
  • Instagram will start hiding like counts in Canada: More focus on content and less on popularity. I dig it. [Engadget]
  • Prime Video is coming to Facebook Portal: You’ll be able to watch movies on Portal soon. [The Streamable]
  • Portal is also coming to areas outside the US: It’s expected to ship this fall. [Engadget]

And in non-Facebook related news, Apple can’t keep up with the demand for AirPods, a recent Windows update is causing issues for Chromium, Google talks Android TV stuff, and more.

  • Apparently, AirPods are super cool: Tim Cook called AirPods a “cultural phenomenon” and said that Apple is struggling to keep up with demand. I can vouch for that—the set I ordered has been on backorder with no ship date in sight. Oof. [9to5Mac]
  • A Windows update is hammering Chromium: A new security updates for Windows 10 is causing major performance issues for Chromium, but a fix is coming. [ZDNet]
  • Google reminded us that Android TV exists: The company says news hardware is coming, along with a redesigned Play Store. The bad news is that it’s probably too little, too late. [9to5Google]
  • Google announces “CallJoy” for small businesses: It’s like the automated systems that we all hate dealing with when all we want to do is talk to a real person, but for all businesses instead of just ones that can fork over the money for it. Great. [Google Blog]
  • Ingress gets real (kind of): Before Pokemon Go, there was Ingress. Now, it’s coming to Netflix in a new animated series. [Android Police]

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